Child-free and unmarried: Changes in the life planning of young east German women


Department of Sociology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250 (


Using evidence from demographic and survey data, this research examines how one decade of postsocialism has changed the life planning of young East German women. Aggregate data reflect marriage and fertility postponement and increased nonmarital birth rates and cohabitation. The analysis shows East German women's “stubbornness” (Dölling, 2003) in adhering to life perspectives in line with the German Democratic Republic (GDR) standard biography (high nonmarital childbearing, high work orientation, rejection of the homemaker status, desire to combine work and family). The most important findings are that (a) motherhood is postponed to increase child-free time, (b) cohabitation is increasingly becoming an alternative to marriage, (c) marriage (but not partnership) is increasingly optional for childbearing, and (d) employment is prioritized over family formation.