Fertility and Commuting Behaviour in Germany

Johannes Huinink, Michael Feldhaus


Fertility behaviour is closely related to other dimensions of the individual life course, which are strongly interrelated themselves. Regarding the impact of job-related spatial mobility, empirical findings show a negative correlation between having children and commuting, particularly for women. Up to now, fertility intentions have not been thoroughly investigated in this respect. Longitudinal studies are lacking, too. In this paper, the effects of commuting arrangements of men and women on the intention of having a child within the next two years as well as the probability of realising this intention are addressed. The assumption is, that after accounting for other important factors (employment status, level of qualification, type of consensual union, number of children, residential mobility), medium- and long-distance commuting is negatively related to the fertility intention of women and its realisation. For men, effects are assumed to be nonexistent or even slightly positive. Longitudinal data from the first three waves of the German “Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics” (pairfam) are used to test the hypotheses.

Firstly, a cross-sectional, multivariate probit-regression (with correlated errors) on the intention to have a child within two years, on being childless and on medium- and long- distance commuting is applied. The model shows no significant correlation between commuting and the intention to have a child; it does however show a correlation between medium- and long distance commuting and the probability of women to be childless. Secondly, a longitudinal difference model on changing fertility intentions between panel wave 1 and wave 3 is estimated. For women, a positive effect can be found of interrupting medium- and long-distance commuting or, surprisingly, continuing medium- and long-distance commuting on the intention to have a child within two years. Thirdly, for men and women who reported a fertility intention in the first wave, a longitudinal Heckman-selection probit-regression on the probability of having a child between wave 1 and wave 3 is estimated. It shows negative effects of medium- and long-distance commuting on having a child. Taken together, these findings support the assumption that commuting plays a characteristically different role in different phases of the fertility-related decision process.


Spatial Mobility; Commuting; Fertility Intentions

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