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The timing of family formation - a new approach : is the timing of parenthood a female decision?

[conference paper]

Maul, Katharina; Schröder, Thorsten

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Corporate Editor Universität Bremen, FB 08 Sozialwissenschaften, EMPAS Institut für Empirische und Angewandte Soziologie, Arbeitsgebiet Theorie und Empirie der Sozialstruktur
Abstract "Difficulties of achieving aims in career and family at the same time are considered to be an important issue for today's fertility decline. Since the 1970s career opportunities for women have become more attractive but the possibilities to combine career with existing family plans haven't been implemented sufficiently. On the other hand the time-intensive traditional idea about female family-care is widespread. For this reason, women have to decide to a stronger extent than men between their aims in family and vocational career. Theoretical Models, like the Expected Utility Model (Leibenstein, 1975) or the Theory of Planed Behaviour (Barber, 2001) assume that the costs and benefits of the different options are compared, and individuals decide for the most favourable of them - even though it can only be done insufficiently, since the costs and benefits are very complex and imponderable. On the basis of the traditional role ideas, parenthood is interconnected with considerable disadvantages especially for women (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 1995). According to these theories parenthood is delayed by women because of an unfavourable opportunity structure, while men hardly influence the decision. They only have the possibility to alter the basic conditions for women. Theories of this kind can well explain under which circumstances parenthood is postponed for the benefit of occupational aims. But it can not be deduced under which circumstances parenthood will be realised later in life nor are the costs of adjusting a salient aim included. Family formation even though the circumstances are not perfect or a postponing even though they are, can not be explained with existing theories. We assume that the decision to postpone parenthood or to realize it, is not only a question of incentives, but is also influenced by the risk to fail with individual life-plans. But how are different life-aims and incentives joined together – and how do they influence the decision for parenthood? In this paper, we use some developmental-psychological assumptions to present a new action theory, which gives us the 'missing link' between goal-attainment and (the perception) of incentives – and of course a deeper understanding on what is going on with families." (excerpt)
Keywords family situation; career; dual career couple; parenthood; motherhood; fatherhood; job history; equal opportunity; equality of rights
Classification Family Sociology, Sociology of Sexual Behavior
Document language English
Publication Year 2007
City Bremen
Page/Pages 12 p.
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
data provider This metadata entry was indexed by the Special Subject Collection Social Sciences, USB Cologne