Theoretical Explanations of Increasing Childlessness – Divergent Approaches and the Integrating Potential of the Frame Selection Theory

Jan Eckhard


In order to explain the increasing childlessness in numerous European countries since the 1960s, research points to sociocultural changes on the one hand and rising costs of family formation on the other hand. Yet, there is no comprehensive theory capable of integrating both causes and their interaction. This paper discusses the possibilities of an integrative model which is based on frame selection theory. The model refers to decisions in relationships and discusses the interaction between sociocultural orientations and structural incentives. The resulting hypothesis that the effects of incentives on family formation depend on the situational compatibility of a family-framed relationship perception is subsequently empirically tested using the German family survey panel (Familiensurvey).


Fertility; Declining birth rates; Demographic change; Relationship; Family survey

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