Where Qualitative Research Meets Demography: Interdisciplinary Explorations of Conceptions on Fatherhood in an Extremely Low Fertility Context

Holger R. von der Lippe, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Urs Fuhrer, University of Magdeburg

Recent demands to include psychological theories of decision-making and intention-formation in research on family formation coincide with calls for improving research on male fertility and fatherhood. In this paper, we address these notions and present findings from in-depth interviews with 30-year-old childless men from Eastern Germany on their desire for children. Our research is embedded in the societal situation of contemporary Eastern Germany, where birth rates have faced a historical low--the lowest in more than 10 years. Our innovative analytical paradigm draws on the contemporary social cognitive theory of intention-formation. We examine male attitudes, values, motives, interests, goals, action beliefs, and self-concepts, and their connection to intentions for parenthood. We compare our results with explanations that the Theory of Symbolic Self-Completion and the Theory of Reasoned Action give. We argue for the need to account for fundamentally different psychological mechanisms that may determine men's transition to fatherhood.

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Presented in Session 154: Gender and Fertility Decision-Making