Inquiries into Men's Desire for Children: Results from a Study on Family Formation with 30-Year-Old Men from East Germany


  • Holger Von der Lippe Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung
  • Urs Fuhrer Universität Magdeburg



demography, qualitative psychology, East Germany, fertility rate, childbearing, men, fatherhood, desire for children, Grounded Theory, Problem-centered Interview, Theory of Symbolic Self-Completion, Theory of Planned Behavior


This study contributes to a topic, which is located at the intersection of demography, sociology, and psychology and which is still rarely addressed by research. It deals with young men's motives and opportunities for aspiring to have their own children. We examine using a qualitative approach how men frame their decision-making, and which factors and individuals influence their intentions in this biographic transition. A multidisciplinary design was implemented both in the development of the research questions and in the analysis of the interview. We draw upon concepts derived from personality and social psychology as well as from demography and sociology in order to attain an adequate approach to the topic throughout the course of the study and to be able to interpret results from different disciplinary perspectives. We interviewed 30-year-old men from East Germany, most of them childless, using a problem-centered interview technique that was strongly inspired by ideas of WITZEL. Our interviewees were participants from a large medical-psychological longitudinal survey, which allowed us access to selective quantitative data and served as background information. A particular point of interest for our study was to examine the subject of men's desire for children in times of a massive, and still unexplained fertility decline in East Germany. Results show a large variety and variability within the stories of our respondents. We refer to different social-psychological theories (the Theory of Symbolic Self-Completion and the Theory of Planned Behavior) in order to understand how processes of motivation, intention-formation, and decision-making in men occur during this important biographic transition in times of societal upheaval. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs030386


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Author Biographies

Holger Von der Lippe, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

Holger VON DER LIPPE: Studium der Psychologie, Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaft an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Abschluss als Diplom-Psychologe. Doktorand im Arbeitsbereich "Zeitgenössische Fertilität und Familiendynamik in Europa" des Max-Planck-Instituts für demographische Forschung. Arbeits- und Forschungsschwerpunkte sind die psychologische Längsschnittforschung, die Sozialpsychologie des Lebenslaufs sowie die Rekonstruktion der individuellen Entscheidung zur Elternschaft.

Urs Fuhrer, Universität Magdeburg

Prof. Dr. Urs FUHRER: Lehrstuhl für Entwicklungspsychologie und Pädagogische Psychologie an der Universität Magdeburg. Arbeits- und Forschungsschwerpunkte: Erziehung, Familie, Entwicklung (z.B. Entwicklungsaufgaben, Bindung), Identität und Bewältigung im Kontext nicht-normativer, "kritischer" Lebensereignisse, Familien- und Jugendgewalt, Stadt als Entwicklungsrahmen von Kindern und Jugendlichen, Entwicklung als Kultivation.



How to Cite

Von der Lippe, H., & Fuhrer, U. (2003). Inquiries into Men’s Desire for Children: Results from a Study on Family Formation with 30-Year-Old Men from East Germany. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 4(3).



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