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Beat Mischler (2004)

Birth and Parenthood in the City of Zurich 1993-2002*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 29, 2/2004, p. 245-262, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

Using the data collected on the birth of a child, the essay develops an overview of the current state of family formation in the city of Zurich. Thanks to a death rate which is still falling slowly, and to a birth rate which has been rising continually since 1977, the city anticipates a surplus of births to occur in the foreseeable future. However, it largely has immigrants to thank for the being blessed with so many children: More than half of the parents who registered a birth in recent years are of foreign origin. Parents from the successor states of the former Yugoslavia make up the largest group, at more or less one-quarter, whilst the Germans are the most common in binational families with Swiss persons.

The birth-rate in the individual districts of the city shows a clear dependence on construction activity. An analysis of people moving house soon before a birth also indicates that those about to become parents are more than twice as likely to move house in the year before the birth of their first child than other residents; on the notoriously dried-up housing market, they collect where any dwellings which are suited to families come onto the market.

The share of births within wedlock in the city of Zurich is still eighty percent. This rate has however begun to fall noticeably since the start of the eighties, and more since the mid-nineties. The most frequent family size is a two-child family. This is however probably not caused by an ideal: The share of mothers not extending their family is larger after the third birth than after the second.

A comparison between age-specific fertility of women by individual nations shows that the births phase ends in a similar manner, but starts very differently. Whilst this phase starts early and powerfully among mothers from Turkey and ex-Yugoslavia, Swiss and German women have their first child late, too late in order to be able to achieve fertility that would ensure continuance of the population level. If however one groups the mothers according to the home of the father, it is shown that Swiss women with foreigners are certainly willing to give birth early, whilst conversely foreign women liased with Swiss men also postpone the first birth. Postponement of the first birth (including the concomitant reduction in fertility) hence appears largely to be caused by Swiss men.

* Original title: Geburt und Elternschaft in der Stadt Zürich 1993-2002 (full text in German only)

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