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Familiy and Fertility Survey (FFS)

Family Formation and Fertility Intentions in Germany

The data from the Family and Fertility Survey (FFS) originated in the year 1992, when Germany had been unified for only a short time. The study focused on relationship and family developments of then 20 to 39-year-olds in eastern and western Germany.

The German FFS was conducted in 1992 at a time when there were distinctly divergent reproductive patterns in the two parts of recently unified Germany. In western Germany, the falling birth rate had already reached its conclusion in the mid-1970s. Since then, the marriage and birth frequencies, at least at first glance, had levelled off at a steady, low level. Similar applies to the marriage tendencies – approximately one fourth to one third of all single individuals remains unmarried. These are low rates, although not the lowest in a worldwide comparison of low-fertility countries.

In eastern Germany, by contrast, the patterns of family formation common in the GDR had dissolved. First marriages, the birth of children, divorces and remarriages were delayed, if not entirely left undone. In 1992, the combined birth rate reached only 822 children per 1,000 women, the first marriage tendency was only 50% of the level observed in western Germany and the divorce tendency had decreased in “Divorceland GDR” to 7.5%.

One main focus of the FFS was the retrospective survey of the intimate relationships and family developments of the 20 to 39-year-old men and women surveyed in western and eastern Germany in 1992. The information acquired was correlated with the educational and employment biographies as well as the residential biographies of the respondents. According to the design of the study, the description and interpretation of differences according to age and differences between western and eastern Germany were the focus.

The Family and Fertility Survey data can be requested from GESIS (Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften) under the ZA study number 3400 for socio-scientific evaluations.


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Dr. Jürgen Dorbritz

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© Federal Institute for Population Research - 2017