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Andreas Ette and Kerstin Ruckdeschel (2007)

Grandma Makes the Difference! The Impact of Institutional and Informal Support for Parents on Their Further Fertility Intentions*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 32, 1-2/2007, p. 51-72, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

The family-policy debate has been dominated in recent years in Germany by efforts to increase the availability of public child-care for small children. Policy- makers aim amongst other things to make it easier for people to choose to have children as a result of the new benefits. Empirical surveys searching for a direct link between the availability of child-care and desired fertility however reach contradictory conclusions. Taking up conceptual problems of the surveys which are available, the significance and the influence of social networks are investigated in particular. The central presumption made in the article is that the availability of social capital – and hence the possibility to receive assistance in terms of time and financial resources given, as well as emotional support – exerts a positive influence on the desire for more children. The article shows that the availability of child-care has a positive influence on desired fertility. The individual’s social network – and here above all the grandparents – takes on greater significance for further family planning than does institutional assistance. On the other hand, the conclusions also show that public child-care can help young families to achieve their goals by supplementing or replacing informal care.

* Original title: Die Oma macht den Unterschied! Der Einfluss institutioneller und informeller Unterstützung für Eltern auf ihre weiteren Kinderwünsche (full text in German only)

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