Unequal Neighbours? A French-German Comparison of Family Size Intentions


  • Kerstin Ruckdeschel Federal Institute for Population Research Germany
  • Anne Salles Université Paris-Sorbonne France
  • Sabine Diabaté Federal Institute for Population Research Germany
  • Laurent Toulemon Institut National d’Études Démographiques France
  • Arnaud Régnier-Loilier Institut National d’Études Démographiques France




France, Germany, Role model, Intended family size, Norms, Values, Fertility, Family policy


The neighbouring countries France and Germany show very different levels of fertility. Differences also exist between the two regions of East and West Germany. The aim of this paper is to help close a remaining gap in explaining these differences by applying a cultural concept of role models. Data is based on the German survey “Family-related role models” (2012) and the French survey “Situation de couple, intentions de fécondité et opinions sur la famille”, ELIPSS (2013) offering a new approach to measuring the impact of social norms. The analysis uses multinomial logistic regression. We identified role models regarding the acceptance of childlessness on the one hand and large families on the other, as well as regarding the link between marriage and parenthood and the importance of financial security, suggesting different fertility-related cultures in France and Germany. There is a strong predominance of one general role model in France – that of having at least two children. In Germany, in contrast, there is a dominant role model – the two child family – but there are also several less central role models. The dominant model in France even leads to a sort of self-stigmatisation of individuals who want to stay childless, whereas childlessness is generally accepted in Germany. Role model differences between East and West Germany show a lower acceptance of large families and a higher acceptance of single-child families in the East. Our results highlight the importance of role models for fertility intentions as well as the relevance of cultural dimensions when studying the impact of the institutional framework on fertility.




How to Cite

Ruckdeschel, K. et al. 2019. Unequal Neighbours? A French-German Comparison of Family Size Intentions. Comparative Population Studies. 43, (Jan. 2019). DOI:https://doi.org/10.12765/CPoS-2018-12.



Research Articles