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SOCIAL INDICATORS THE NEXT GENERATION

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					Social Indicators
The next generation




            The Netherlands Family Council
                 Lange Voorhout 86
                  2514 EJ Den Haag
                      april 2002




                                             1
Table of contents




       Preface                                                1

Chapter 1:    Introduction: the next generation               2

Chapter 2:    Theoretical background                          5

Chapter 3:    In search for family life course indicators      8
      3.1.            Household types during the life cycle    9
      3.2.            Income during the life cycle            12
      3.3.            The Family Burden Indicator             19

Chapter 4:    Decisions in the family formation process.      20
      4.1            Interaction interview                    20
      4.2.           Main results of the previous project
      4.3.           Main results of the interviews           23
      4.4.           Results for the specific countries

Chapter 5:    Conclusions                                     36

       SUMMARY                                                48




Appendix 1:   Datasources and main definitions
Appendix 2:   Household indicator life course phases
Appendix 3:   Households EU-countries
Appendix 4:   Income 3 types of households EU-countries
Appendix 5:   Life course phases income EU-countries
Appendix 6:   Family Burden Indicator
Appendix 7:   Statistics Interviews


                                                                   2
3
Preface

Governments need to know the impact of their activities on families. Especially when it
concerns families with children. Families provide not only the human capital of society, but
are also one of the key elements providing for the social cohesion of society at the micro-
level. And, conversely, poor family situations often lead not only to the social exclusion of
children at an early age but also function as the central mechanism for intergenerational
transfer of these problems. In sum, families are the linking pin or broker with respect to a
number of vital processes in society such as the changing gender balance and the
development of human resources for the future. It is important to note that most of the time
these functions are performed by healthy, well functioning families, and that the average
family as a unit is quite capable of self-sustainment and making its own decisions. In fact,
many effects at the macro-level, such as population growth and labour force composition,
directly depend on the decisions taken at the family micro-level. On the other hand, these
decisions are taken in an environment that for a large part is determined by policy decisions
relating to the housing situation, the tax system, school support, the welfare mix, etc.

During the United Nations International Year of the Family in 1994, the Netherlands Family
Council in The Hague and the Population and Family Studies Centre in Brussels joined efforts
in studying the interaction between families and policy, a collaboration which has continued
down to the present time. In 1997 the Austrian Institute for Family Studies in Vienna joined
this cooperation called the Family Impact Monitor programme.

This project, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports in the
Netherlands and by the European Union, is one of the cooperative projects. Its specific aim is
to develop multidisciplinary indicators at the crossroads of gender and generational relations.
It combines quantitative data on the life course of men and women in general and qualitative
data on the decision making process on one of the important transitions in the human life
course, family formation.

The researchers involved were Christiane Pfeiffer and Norbert Neuwirth of the Austrian
Institute for Family Studies, Neelke Vernaillen of the Centre for Population and Family
Studies, Anique Bakker of the Netherlands Family Council, Ger Sleijpen and Piet Prak of the
Central Statistics Office in the Netherlands, Hans Akkerboom and Iris Kalinitsch and the
coordinators for the countries involved in the qualitative research parts, listed in the back of
this report.
The project coordination team consisted of Pieter Kalle and Edmond Lambrechts, who were
responsible for the general management, and drs Peter Cuvyers, who coordinated the study
and authored the report.




Pieter Kalle                 Edmond Lambrechts                     Peter Cuyvers




                                                                                              4
   1. Introduction: The next generation.


The title of this project, Social Indicators: the next generation, may be explained in two ways.
First, the focus of the project is on the next generation. The aim is to develop the insight into
the processes that influence the decision making of young couples to have, to have not yet, or
to have not at all children.
Second, the type of indicators we are working on may be described as a „next generation‟ of
indicators for fertility behaviour. As Jensen (1999) puts it for instance up till now data on
fertility are usually acquired for women. Main theories for changes in fertility depend for
instance on the rising economic participation and schooling of women (van Peer 2000).
Further there is a great need to understand the interdependencies between the macro and the
micro levels of society (Jensen 2000). Decisions on family formation are not taken in a
vacuum but they are influenced by a social environment that is constituted of a mix of social
traditions, existing provisions for parenthood or the combination of labour and care, all of
these again exist in a certain context of economic development that may in itself have an
influence on family formation decisions.

The Family Impact Monitor Programme is a joint effort of the Netherlands Family Council,
the Centre for Population and Family Studies of the Flemish Community and the Austrian
Institute for Family Studies


MONITORING__________________________________________________________
               |                   |            |                        |
               |                   |            |                        |
               |                   |            |                        |
>>>>>>Government (A)       Family policy (B) Families (C)                |
|      Intentions:         Specific          Effects/                    |
|      Values/Scope/       actions/          perception/                 |
|      Targets             effects           intention                   |
|                                                                        |
|             ________________________________________________________IMPACT
ANALYSIS
  INDICATORS (D)



In the first track (A) the intentions of governments and their policies are analyzed, and in the
second track (B) the actual policies and their implementation are studied. The C-track of the
Monitor is intended to measure the effects of policies on families from the perspective of
families themselves. These subjective assessments should be distinguished from the objective
impacts of policies on families, as assessed in trail D, the trail in which we try to establish
comparative indicators for family development in different countries. Some of these



                                                                                               5
indicators play a role in describing the main characteristics of the social environment for
couples and families taking decisions on childbirth and participation in the labour market.

In the classic definition of Burgess (1926), the family is a unit of interacting personalities. As
such, it functions as a system that is trying to find and maintain a certain equilibrium (von
Bertelaneffy 1969) as it develops. The first and most basic system consists of the relationship
between the two partners. And while the formula 1+1=3 may look rather wrong from the
mathematical perspective, for family researchers it is quite logical: the relationship between
the partners is not simply derived from the characters of the two individuals, but rather
constitutes a separate entity in and of itself.1 People in relationships may act quite differently
than they would ever do on their own, and changes in relationships can produce dramatic
changes in behaviour. Therefore the fertility and labour market participation decisions taken
by partners are subject to at least three variables: the individual dispositions of each of the
partners and the characteristics of their relationship. Furthermore, there are also the external
influences, which are of quite a different nature, such as the influence of other persons,
including parents and friends. There is also the influence of the social environment with its
many aspects: the financial situation and prospects, the housing possibilities, the employment
situation and opportunities, childcare facilities, etcetera. This all constitutes a dazzling
complexity, which usually translates into models with large numbers of variables and very
sophisticated methods of analysis. In this research project, we tried to do it the other way
around. We supposed that external variables were mediated by the interaction between
partners, and that we could learn something about the process of family formation which
nowadays is much longer than it used to be (see Chapter 3) - by studying this interaction
process.

In accordance with the general approach of the Family Impact Monitor, the question was
simultaneously attacked both at the macro- and the microlevels. At the macrolevel we
performed a secondary analysis on the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). Since
the ECHP contains both variables on the household composition and the income of
individuals we were able – as was demonstrated in a previous study in the Netherlands – to
construct a number of indicators for the life course and the changes in purchasing power
resulting from family formation. This part of the study – element of the D-trail of the Monitor
project aimed at developing indicators - will be called further the „quantitative trail‟

In the qualitative part of the study – element of the C-trail of the Monitor aimed at assessing
the perceptions of families -, we interviewed 210 couples in eight European countries/regions,
not just individually, but also together. In accordance with the 1+1=3 formula, we assumed
that the interaction between the partners would give us more information than the individual
interviews by themselves. The method for this interview procedure was developed in a
previous project co-financed by the European Union.2




1        From a biological perspective, the formula 1+1=3 is simply the formula for childbirth itself.
2
         The project was called „Partner Interaction‟ (EU Grant Soc 98 101387-05 E01). The report is available
at the Netherlands Family Council


                                                                                                                 6
Essentially therefore this project is a replication of the research done in the Netherlands and
Flanders The social indicators at the macrolevel were developed for the National Family
Report in the Netherlands3. In this project the European Community Household Panel
provided the data to develop these indicators for all countries of the European Union.
The research at the microlevel was made possible by a previous grant of the European Union4.
In the Netherlands and Flanders 90 pilot interviews took place to develop the instrument of
the confrontation/interaction interview. In this project 20 interviews were conducted in six
more countries (Sweden, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium French
speaking part, Spain) in order to test the method for international comparative research.

It should be noted that the aim of this project is to develop the methodology for international
comparative research on indicators for the family formation decision process. The number of
interviews for instance is far too small too draw decisive conclusions on what is going on at
the level of countries: the aim is to develop the „sensitizing concepts that may be tested
further in (inter)national surveys. Inversely, the social indicators at the macrolevel are „tested‟
only on their technical robustness: within the scope of this project is was not possible to
develop them further at the national level, for instance to test for (probably important)
regional differences. In short, this project is about the development of instruments5. Of course
in the concluding chapter we will try to draw some general conclusions based on the results
but these should be seen as hypotheses made plausible by this project.

First we will give in the second chapter a theoretical introduction and summary of findings of
previous projects, followed by description of this project. In the third chapter we will report
on the results of the quantitative trail, the analysis of the ECHP. In the fourth chapter we will
report on the results of the qualitative trail. In chapter five the results will be summarized and
some possible conclusions will be drawn.




3
    The results are available in English in the brochure „Family: Images and Reality‟, NGR 2001.


5
  The original design involved testing of this kind in a number of countries, but during the project this had to be
abandoned because of the technical difficulties in making the ECHP data suitable for this type of analysis. On
the other hand it was possible to do the analysis for all EU-countries instead of the limited number foreseen.
With respect to the interviews the number of countries had to be limited because the procedures for international
coordination and comparison of data proved to be very time consuming for this type of interview.


                                                                                                                  7
   2. Theoretical background:dynamic view on family life and family decisions.



European women are giving birth lesser and later: the general rate of birth has gone down
well below the replacement level and the average age of first motherhood has been rising
steadily in the past years.

In the literature, the delay in childbirth is usually considered to be the result of a complex of
personal and societal factors, which mutually reinforce one another. The emancipation of
women, for instance, resulted in both a lengthening of the period of education and the
increased participation of women in the labour market. Since both education and entry into
the labour market usually precede the formation of the family, these developments in
themselves will mean a delay in the birth of the first child. It is usually assumed that this delay
is lengthened by the lack of provisions to facilitate the combination of work and motherhood
in a number of countries. But we should also take into account the fact that many women
prefer to take care of their children at home, and therefore are reluctant to start a family
because it would involve making some very difficult choices. Another assumption, which is
linked to the idea that individualism and consumerism are growing amongst the younger
generations, is that younger couples generally want to enjoy their freedom and maintain their
consumption power as double-income-no-kid couples.

The material basis for this increase in the number of options for individuals is the general
change in life course patterns that has been spreading gradually over Europe. Consistent with
the innovation-diffusion theory (de Feijter 1991), the behavioural patterns of forerunners in
the 1960s have now become more or less common in a number of countries (such as the
Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands) and are increasing in others. In the old days
people married out of their parental homes - or even into them for lack of housing - and
earned for themselves the legitimate right to an adult existence, including sexuality, upon
taking responsibility for their own income and, of course, for their own children. Since then,
however, the iron triangle of sexuality, economic independence and family formation, has
been torn apart. Sexual relations are not only allowed before marriage, but in fact start in the
period when young people are still living with their parents.
It is clear, however, that the road to parenthood has become a lot longer and more
complicated than it was before. As seen from the viewpoint of the individual, it passes
through phases signposted with the following questions:
- Is there a (suitable) partner available?
- When, or in what stage of our relationship, will we cohabit?
- Is the present partner someone I trust enough to build a family with?
- Is the partner also inclined to build a family with me?
- And, last but not least, is the partner also willing to make arrangements for the future care of
these children that will suit my wishes and ambitions?

The answers to these questions are constantly interwoven with other life decisions: staying
home or going to live on one=s one, the choice of education and profession, the building of a
personal social network, etc. For women and men in their twenties and early thirties, however,
most of these decisions still involve a certain degree of real freedom, because they are not
irreversible. Nobody really expects a person to marry the first person they date; one=s first
lodgings will not be permanent; some young people even decide to go back and live with their


                                                                                                 8
parents after a period of living on their own; the workforce is more and more characterized by
people taking short-term jobs as a career start-up, etc. And, as stated above, cohabitation is
unstable to the extent that half of the cohabitants will eventually split up, (for which reason it
has often been referred to as a sort of trial marriage).There is nothing to be reversed when
parenthood is at stake, and young people are very aware of this.

In view of the potential losses in money, time and career options, we should be surprised that
children are born at all. In fact, up to the present time little attention has been given to the
positive arguments for parenthood/motherhood or, as a corollary, to the negative arguments
with respect to labour participation. It is generally assumed that there is an urge or instinct for
motherhood - or at least a fear in women of growing older without participating in this
essential part of their female identity.
Furthermore, little attention has been given to other possible reasons for delaying childbirth
or, inversely, for abandoning the labour market by women who choose to become mothers.
These reasons may be found in the development of the person‟s life itself, or in the (stronger)
involvement of male partners in the decision-making process. As for the former
considerations, there is of course the strong effect of the extended period of education that
people undergo, irrespective of their level of education.

Though scarce, there is empirical evidence of the influence of fathers. Thomson (1996)
showed for instance that the wishes and desires of the (male) partners had just about as much
influence on the number of children the couples had as did the wishes and desires of the
women involved. Further disagreement between partners had a downward effect on the
overall desire for children. The pathway for this effect seemed to be a rather complex one, or
rather the way it worked could not be clearly established. However, research on the general
issue of interaction between partners (Komter 1985, Hochschild 1989) shows a good deal of
implicit influencing. The partners may exert quite a lot of invisible pressure on one another,
and this kind of pressure tends to work in favour of the party preferring the conventional
situation.

It also seems quite plausible that the extended pathway to the family involves new ways of
interacting and influencing. Instead of the automatic combination of marriage and parenthood,
a lot of couples now experience a period of mutual interaction and influence before marriage,
and it would be rather illogical if one of the most important decisions to be taken (whether or
not to establish a family) would not be subject to these explicit or implicit negotiations. The
question is: how do we get to know something about this process of interaction? There are
several reasons why this is not an easy topic of research. First of all, family formation
decisions are naturally very sensitive matters, shrouded in the veil of family privacy, and
often for the partners themselves not easy to communicate about. (After all, they involve the
assessment of the quality of the relationship). Furthermore, there is the methodological
problem of the measurement of interaction. Interaction is more than the addition of the acts of
two persons. Most interaction sequences are not explicitly clear and visible to observers, not
simply because the observers cannot always be present, but also because much interaction
takes place in a nonverbal manner, signaling agreement or displeasure with subtle expressions
or moves that are unknown to third persons. And finally, interaction on a specific issue in a
relationship usually does not take place in a clear-cut time and space. It is rather built up by
numerous exchanges of viewpoints, most of the time imbedded in conversations on quite
different topics and spread out over a long period of time. In chapter 4 we will go further into
the methodology of assessing family interaction processes.



                                                                                                 9
The decisions taken at the level of couples or families of course do not take place in a
vacuum. People live in specific circumstances and these circumstances set the parameters for
their decisions by way of giving certain effects for the decisions. If for instance childcare is
available in abundance parents know that they will not have difficulties combining work and
care. Or if there is paid parental leave parents know that they will be able to take care of their
child without loss of income. If these provisions are not available on the other hand, they
know that they will have to invest their own time and money and this may lead to
postponement of the decision until money is saved or until a specific career step has been
made.

Of course these circumstances differ between countries, regions and cities. Further, as has
been stated above, the personal opinion of parents (to be) „mediates‟ the effect of this kind of
circumstances. The question we want to address in this project is whether the process of
modernization, in which the process of family formation is negotiated more and takes partly
because of this (but also because of longer educational pathways) more time, is an issue that
has a general effect. That is an effect in all European countries.

In the next chapter we will start with this analysis, looking for indicators that enable us to
compare the life cycles in the different EU-countries. Next, in chapter 4, we will address the
issue of the interaction between partners in a number of countries.




                                                                                               10
    3. Analysis of the ECHP in search for ‘family life course indicators’.



Family formation means that a household composition changes as a result of the birth of a
child. The word „family‟ however also is used for a group of kinfolks or for a married couple
without children. In fact there is no definition of „family‟ that will encompass all meanings
people give to it (Gauthier ). Since in this project the crucial issue is to develop indicators
comparing the living conditions of people with and without children we will use the word
„family‟ in the specific sense as living unit in which children are taken care for or educated.

The European Community Household Panel is a survey based on a representative panel of
households and individuals in each European Union Member State. It covers a wide range of
topics such as income (including social transfers), employment characteristics and
demographic variables. For an extensive overview of the characteristics of the ECHP see
Appendix 1.

In this project the ECHP data were used to compare the EU-countries on two issues.

First the „demography of the child‟, that is the division of households with children over the
life cycle compared to the division of other household types such as singles or couples. For
this analysis a new variable was created, called the „Life Phase‟, composed of a person‟s age
and the type of household he or she lived in. For a complete description of this variable see
Appendix 2. We distinguished between the following types of households:
     1. Living with parents (child in family)
     2. Living alone (single)
     3. Living with partner (married or cohabitating couple)
     4. Living with child without partner (single parent family)
     5. Living with parents and/or other family members (extended family)
     6. Others.
The goal of creating this variable was to be able to get an overview of the life course of
people6. It stands to reason that most people start their life as child in a family. In leaving this
family they may do so by directly forming a family of their own but they may also live for a
while as couple or single. During the rest of the life course people can change their household
type by divorce or when children leave the parental home again, etcetera.

Second the economic situation of families (with children) compared to other types of
household. For this comparison we use the so-called standardized income. Standardisation
means that the income of a household is corrected for its composition: if the same income can
be used for a single or for a family with two children it is clear that the latter have less „real‟
purchasing power. Further the incomes are standardized at the European level, so we can
really compare incomes of households in different countries.

It should be noticed further that for the „representation of the lifecourse‟ the crossectional data
were arranged according to age of the reference person. That means that all graphs to be

6
         Since the ECHP has a number of waves and is set up as a panel it is possible to follow persons over a
number of years and get longitudinal data in order to construct real life courses. In this project we developed the
method on crossectional data (1996) being the most recent year of availability of the ECHP. In the future the
analysis could be repeated for the following waves, but the size of the panel may give problems in drawing
conclusions since the sample size will get too small if too many subgroups are constructed.


                                                                                                                 11
presented essentially are representing the actual situation of the population of different ages
with respect to household position and income. 7


3.1. Demography: household types during the lifecycle.

As we see in Figure 3.1 the type of household someone lives in is indeed strongly related to
his or her age. Young Europeans will live in a family with their parents or – the dark purple
area – in an extended family type with parents and grandparents or other relatives. After the
age of 20 gradually other living arrangements emerge and for a short period tend to dominate
the lifecourse: the green area for people living single and the blue area for people living with
their partner.8 At the age of 30 however we see that the vast majority of the population has
shifted to the position of parent. At the bottom of the purple area the light purple colour shows
the number of single parent families. In the next stage of the lifecycle we see children
gradually leave the parental home, reducing the household (again) to a partnership and later
on to single persons. For lack of data on the elderly in the ECHP the figure stops at the age of
70 but it is clear of course that the green area will be dominating the later ages.

FIGURE 3.1 household types in EU




7
         For further methodological discussion on the likelyhood that these cross-sectional data build a valid
representation of the lifecycle is referred to the Netherlands national family report and the explications for the
separate graphs.
8
         It should be noted that this category does not distinguish between married and unmarried couples.
Neither does the category for parents living with their children. This distinction between married and unmarried
partners is not made for a number of reasons. First, the focus of the research is on parenthood, so the most
important distinction is between households with two, one or zero parents. Second, the number of unmarried
couples with children is relatively small and the number of unmarried couples is only relatively big in some
countries between the ages 20 and 30. The data available in these countries – with relatively small populations,
Denmark and the Netherlands for instance – do not allow to make this distinction properly.



                                                                                                                12
         Households Europe 1996                                     Persons
                                                                    living:

                                                                      with parents

                                                                      with family and
                                                                      others
                                                                      with others

                                                                      alone

                                                                      with partner

                                                                      with partner
                                                                      and child(ren)
     0      10      20      30         40    50      60      70       with child(ren)
                                 age




It should be noted again that this graph represents the actual situation of people living in
certain household types, it is not a representation of individual lifecourses. The life course of
an individual may vary of course very strongly: some people will have a very stable life
course of what we may cal the standardtype, that is grow up in a family, marry and build an
own family that will not be dissolved by divorce. Others will switch frequently, living single
and in a consensual union for periods, divorce and remarry, etc. And still others will be living
with their parents for their whole life without any change. Therefore we need additional data
to check whether the probability of a certain life course is as high as it seems to be in this kind
of graph. Theoretically it would be possible that all individuals change their family type in a
certain year and still the graph would remain the same for the next year! Looking at the
divorce rates for instance we can see that the majority of the people does not shift during
parenthood9. But essentially the graph is meant to show that even in situations where people
shift households, the overall pattern still remains that of a strongly family dominated centre of
the life course, with couples and singles concentrating at later ages. For separate countries of
course the situations may differ. The following graphs give two „typical‟ patterns
distinguishing between the North and the South of Europe.

FIGURE 3.2 households for Denmark and Spain.

          Note: all graphs present 1996 data.




9
         In the Netherlands for instance one out of four people will divorce during the life course, but only one
out of eight of the parents will do so.


                                                                                                                13
      Life Phases Denmark vg                     Persons                 Life Phases Spain vg                      Persons
                                                 living:                                                           living:

                                                   with parents                                                      with parents

                                                   with family and                                                   with family and
                                                   others                                                            others
                                                   with others                                                       with others

                                                   alone                                                             alone

                                                   with partner                                                      with partner

                                                   with partner                                                      with partner
                                                   and child(ren)                                                    and child(ren)
                                                   with child(ren)                                                   with child(ren)
  0     10   20   30         40   50   60   70                       0    10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                       age                                                               age




The first difference attracting attention of course is the absense of the three-generation-
household in Denmark, whereas in Spain we see a strong purple belt across all ages. Further
in Denmark at the age of 55 there is hardly a family with children left, whereas in Spain at the
age of 60 families still build the majority of the population and couples and – mainly – singles
only gradually emerge. Third we can see the difference in birhtrates at all ages of course,
Denmark having a new peak, Spain at best at a small plateau.




FIGURE 3.3. households for Germany and Austria


      Life Phases Germany vg                     Persons                 Life Phases Austria vg                    Persons
                                                 living:                                                           living:

                                                   with parents                                                      with parents

                                                   with family and                                                   with family and
                                                   others                                                            others
                                                   with others                                                       with others

                                                   alone                                                             alone

                                                   with partner                                                      with partner

                                                   with partner                                                      with partner
                                                   and child(ren)                                                    and child(ren)
                                                   with child(ren)                                                   with child(ren)
  0     10   20   30         40   50   60   70                       0    10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                       age                                                               age




In figure 3.3. we compare the neighbouring countries Germany and Austria: these countries
have a rather similar population and household development over the ages with population
peaks – now producing a lot of couples – 60 years ago but they differ clearly in the presence



                                                                                                                      14
of the more extended family household. In this way Austria seems to hold an intermediate
position between north and south. Appendix 3 gives an overview of all EU-countries.
Generally, as can be seen in the four countries and the overall EU-graph shown above, the
pattern is similar. Between 20 and 30 years of age there is growing diversity: especially in the
northern countries the percentage of people living in households without children increases
and singles and couples tend to dominate at these ages. In the centre period of the lifecourse
in all countries the family with children dominates, but again the southern countries have (far)
less diversity. Finally the stage in which households without children really dominate the field
is at age 55 and on in the north and roughly at age 65 in the south.


3.2 Income during the lifecycle.

It is a well known fact that children cost (a lot of) money. That is why people plan for it in
various way. They may for instance postpone children and use the period before to work as a
dual-earner couple and save money. They may also look for strategies to maintain or increase
their purchasing power during parenthood by working harder and/or using childcare (such as
grandparents) so they can keep combining paid labour and caring for children. And of course
in a number of countries they can make use of severay ways incomes are redistributed by the
state, giving child allowances, financing childcare or parental leave, etc.
Further, family circumstances vary widely during the lifecycle. When children are young they
need a lot of attention, when they are older they go to school and are more independent
(though opinions may differ on the amount of parental attention needed then). Moreover,
parents tend to make careers or at least improve their wages and older children are able to
make some money of their own, so at later stages the purchasing power of families may be
bigger (though again some may argue that older children are an increased burden in a
consumer society). In order to be able to compare all these different situations the
standardized purchasing power is used: essentially this uses all income sources (also
redistributions and tax effects) and allows for a correction on the number and age of family
members. Further it allows to attribute a purchasing power to all family members since the
purchasing power for an individual is derived from the family situation.

In this paragraph we will describe the results of the lifecourse income analysis based on the
ECHP-data. First we maintained the distinctions between the different types of households in
the previous paragraph, but we concentrated on the three „main types‟: singles, couples and
families with children10.

GRAPH 3.2. Income Denmark, France, Greece versus UK, Netherlands, Spain

Countries with
Small differences




10
         To be sure: in a family with children the purchasing power is identical for all family members. A child
of three years therefore gets the same figure as his father of 38. This is done because it is clear that in almost all
families wealth is redistributed between individuals or to put it simple: children depend on the wealth of their
parents.


                                                                                                                    15
                                                                          Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                                                                       Denmark




                                                   median standarized
                                                                        25000
                                                                        20000




                                                        income
                                                                        15000                                                w ith partner
                                                                                                                             w ith partner and child
                                                                        10000                                                alone
                                                                        5000
                                                                              0
                                                                                        28    38     48     58
                                                                                              age




                        Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                      France
 median standarized




                      25000
                      20000
      income




                                                                                                   w ith partner
                      15000
                                                                                                   w ith partner and child
                      10000                                                                        alone
                       5000
                         0
                                      28                38               48        58
                                                            age




                                                             Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                                                           Greece
                              median standarized




                                                   25000
                                                   20000
                                   income




                                                                                                                       with partner
                                                   15000
                                                                                                                       with partner and child
                                                   10000                                                               alone
                                                    5000
                                                                 0
                                                                              28        38    48      58
                                                                                        age


Countries with large differences




                                                                                                                                                       16
                                       Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                                United Kingdom
         median standarized
                                  25000
                                  20000
              income

                                                                                                       w ith partner
                                  15000
                                                                                                       w ith partner and child
                                  10000                                                                alone
                                      5000
                                        0
                                                              28       38     48        58
                                                                       age




                                                                   Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                                                              Netherlands
                                         median standarized




                                                              25000
                                                              20000
                                                                                                                        with partner
                                              income




                                                              15000
                                                                                                                        with partner and child
                                                              10000                                                     alone
                                                              5000
                                                                   0
                                                                             28        38        48   58
                                                                                        age




                                          Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                                        Spain
                 median standarized




                                      25000
                                      20000
                      income




                                                                                                           w ith partner
                                      15000
                                                                                                           w ith partner and child
                                      10000                                                                alone
                                       5000
                                               0
                                                                28      38        48        58
                                                                            age




Graph 3.4 shows the results for three countries in which the differences are big and three
countries in which the differences are small. It should be noted that the distinction between


                                                                                                                                                 17
northern and southern countries does not hold here. Denmark and the Netherlands for instance
show roughly the same (modern) family lifecourse development but in Denmark the
differences in purchasing power between couples and families are small, just as in Greece. In
the Netherlands and Spain the differences are big. (For a complete overview of the countries
see Appendix 4)

The general pattern however is quite clear: in all countries the purchasing power for families
is at any given age lower than the purchasing power for couples without children, and most of
the time even lower than the purchasing power of singles. In the analysis of household types
we saw that there were big differences for age: in most stages the family with children
dominated, in other ones there were a lot of nonfamily households. In fact these situations
represent the same persons in different stages of their lifecycles. And it stands to reason that a
young dual-earner couple has a lot more to spend in their late twenties than five years later
with two children – to recover financially again when the children left home. In order to
follow this process with the data available11 we constructed a table for the relation between
household-type and income (see Appendix..) in all countries and looked for transitions in the
dominant type of households. For instance: in the Netherlands at age 25 almost 60 percent of
the households consists of a couple, 20 percent is single, 20 percent still lives with his or her
parents and 20 percent is parent with children of his or her own. At age 35 the latter group has
become dominant: almost 80 percent. By constructing a graph consisting of the median
income of the dominant household type12 the general pattern of the changes in the income of
individuals during their lifecycle can be represented.

GRAPH 3.5 Lifecycle income EU


                                            Life Phase Income 1996
                                                    Europe
     Standardized income




                           15000
                                                                      with parents

                           10000                                      transition
                                                                      with partner
                           5000                                       with partner and child
                                                                      alone
                               0
                                   0   10   20   30    40   50   60

                                                 Age



Graph 3.5 shows the result for the European Union. The pattern seems remarkably stable with
the exemption that the income in families with older children is rising and followingly that
young parents have lower purchasing power than they had before they built their own family.
But in fact this pattern hides the quite different situations in different countries
11
          In order to really follow this process we need longitudinal data. In the Netherlands for instance we were
able to follow economical consequences of the transition to parenthood with the Income Panel Survey: the
results matched completely with the results of the crossectional data we use here of one wave of the ECHP.
Potentially, since the ECHP has nine waves, this could be reproduces for all EU-countries but often the lack of
sufficient respondents in the specific family formation stages of the lifecycle will be the problem.
12
          For technical specification, see Appendix …. In order to correct for the „sudden transition effect‟ when
the dominant household types change the five-year-ongoing-average was used. Further in the graphs the different
types dominating are depicted with different colours.


                                                                                                                18
In Graph 3.6. we show the results for Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. There is a
striking similarity in these countries with respect to the family phase: the income is a lot lower
than before and after. Young parents in these countries clearly face a substantial decrease in
purchasing power compared to the period before. In the Netherlands and Denmark there is the
additional circumstance that the majority of the population experiences a different type of
household before family formation. In Denmark we see even a double shift: first the majority
lives single with a low income, then they build couples with high purchasing power, then they
fall back. In the Netherlands there are also lots of singles but they do not dominate. Between
roughly 25 and 30 most people live as a couple with extreme high purchasing power and the
fallback is higher than in all other EU-countries. In fact the level of wealth of young Dutch
couples in the EU is only met by the level of older German and Danish couples (and in
Luxemburg).

GRAPH 3.6
    Note: all data are 1996
                                       Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                   Germany
                           20000
    S tandardized income




                                                                          with parents
                           15000                                          transition
                                                                          with partner
                                                                          with partner and child
                           10000
                                                                          alone


                            5000
                                   0     10   20   30    40   50   60
                                                   Age


                                   Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                               Denmark
                           20000
 S tandardized income




                                                                         with parents
                           15000                                         transition
                                                                         with partner

                           10000                                         with partner and child
                                                                         alone

                            5000
                                   0     10   20   30    40   50    60
                                                   Age




                                                                                                   19
                                     Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                               Netherlands
                         20000
 S tandardized income




                                                                        with parents
                         15000                                          transition
                                                                        with partner

                         10000                                          with partner and child
                                                                        alone

                          5000
                                 0     10    20    30    40   50   60
                                                   Age



In Graph 3.7 we see the southern pattern. In Italy and Spain there is a very small difference at
the moment of transition, in Portugal no difference. In these countries we see overall stability
with respect to the incomes over the lifecourse. (To be noted: these incomes do not include
the incomes of extended families, they are not dominant in any stage. But in general these
incomes do not differ greatly, see the tables).

GRAPH 3.7                                   Italy, Spain, Portugal
                                     Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                   Italy
                         20000
  S tandardized income




                                                                          with parents
                         15000                                            transition
                                                                          with partner
                                                                          with partner and child
                         10000
                                                                          alone


                          5000
                                 0     10     20   30    40   50   60
                                                   Age




                                                                                                   20
                                 Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                               Spain
                        20000
 S tandardized income




                                                                          with parents
                        15000
                                                                          transition
                                                                          with partner

                        10000                                             with partner and child
                                                                          alone

                         5000
                                 0    10   20   30     40    50    60
                                                 Age



                                     Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                 Portugal
                         20000
  S tandardized income




                                                                        with parents
                         15000
                                                                        transition
                                                                        with partner
                         10000
                                                                        with partner and child
                          5000                                          alone


                             0
                                 0    10   20   30     40   50    60
                                                Age


What does this mean? We should bear in mind that this method only allows a comparison at a
very general level: it concerns the median incomes of the dominant household types. These
data – as we saw in the EU-graph – may conceal very big differences for different groups of
people within countries. It is highly probable for instance that the urban population of the big
cities in southern countries shows a pattern much more similar to Denmark or the
Netherlands: we know that it is part of the general modernization process that people do not
marry out of the parental home but live as a single or (often cohabitating) couple and it is
exactly this pattern that „produces‟ the rollercoaster income effect we see in the northern
countries.

Looking at the end of the rollercoaster, the most striking issue in the northern countries of
course is the vast increase in purchasing power after the age of 55, a pattern that is completely
absent in the southern countries. But also here we would need more data on the later ages to
check whether this would hold later on: perhaps in Italy and Spain the wealthy period starts
later. The graphs for the northern countries however indicate that it is mainly a generation
effect: for later ages the curve is going downward.

Though it was not the aim of this study it is striking to see the growing imbalance in the
lifecycle as a result of the modernization processes described in chapter 2. The shortening of
the family lifecycle in a number of countries leads to phases before and after the period one
lives with children that have so to say an „extreme potential‟. There is a lot of time and


                                                                                                   21
(probably therefore) a lot of money to spend in the (new) childless phases in the lifecycle. The
logical consequence however is that living as a family gives a far worse position with respect
to consumption possibilities. It should be stressed however that it is not the position of
families that is worse or worsening, it is the increase in purchasing power in the childless
phases that makes the difference. And one might expect in the future a widening of the gap on
both sides: before the family phase because of the postponement of the first child – giving a
longer prosperous period – and after the family phase because people live longer (in good
health) and especially because the next generation of (G)oldies wil consist of the fairly well-
to-do babyboomers.



3.3     The Family Burden Indicator.

Based on the fact that the ECHP has data on more individuals within the same household we
were able to construct a further indicator for the position of families, the Family Burden
Indicator. The FBI essentially construct sort of an „hourly family wage‟ by adding the
incomes of both partners and dividing this by the number of hours they have to work for it.
Further the FBI makes a comparison between the hourly wages in a country: some families
will have to work twice as many hours for the average income or inversely some families will
earn twice as much with the same hours invested. The FBI gives for each family a percentage
that is derived from the country median. A family with a FBI score of 0.5 therefore has to
work twice as hard for the same income as the household and a family with a FBI score of 2
only needs half the time the average household needs for the average income. In a comparison
between countries we can use the FBI to see in which countries there are a lot of families
having to work (very) hard, for instance having a FBI of 0.4 or even less.

For a complete description of the way the FBI is composed and the results see Appendix 6. In
this paragraph we summarize the results, but at the same time warn that it is difficult to draw
conclusions for a number of reasons. First the number of households meeting the
requirements of giving information on both partners is limited (20.000 in Europe). Therefore
we decided to extend the comparison to all household types and to make a special separate
report on this extended variable, the Family Burden Scale (FBS).

Nevertheless these problems, the results of the FBI are quite clear in this respect that there are
huge – and sometimes unexpected – differences. In Germany for instance one quarter of the
families scored below .6 and in the Netherlands this was even one out of three, whereas in
Denmark only one out of ten families scored that low. The southern countries however scored
even lower: 45 to 60 percent on or under this .6 mark, having to work almost twice as hard to
earn the national average. And in Belgium even 60 percent of the families scored that low, as
low as the EU-average. The fact however that the EU-average was almost equal to the lowest
country level sheds doubts on the validity of these results as an overall measure.




                                                                                                22
          4.         Decisions in the family formation process: interaction between partners.

We start this chapter with a summary of the previous project in the Netherlands and Flanders,
because this project essentially is a replication of that study or to be even more precise, an
attempt to test the transferability of the method for other countries.


4.1.      Interaction interview

Box I features an example of the type of interview, the so-called interaction interview: two
cohabiting partners without children, who were planning to get married and start a family in
the near future, both separately completed the Population Survey and then were questioned by
an experienced interviewer on a number of differences.


BOX I
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----------
--------
Question Survey: Do you think women are more suited for childrearing than men?
                      (5 point scale for agreement/disagreement with statement)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----------
--------
           Interviewer (pointing to a difference in answers between partners):
"You can see in the list that you (male partner) chose for 'mildly agree' and your partner strongly disagreed. Is
this indeed a difference of opinion that you sometimes discuss?

          Male partner (slightly embarrassed, throwing a cautious glance at his partner):
"Well......eh.....I mean, eh, of course it‟s not the way it should be, but...eh....well, at the moment I think perhaps
lots of men have not been raised to do it ...

         Interviewer:
"So in fact your answer should be in the opposite direction?

         Male partner:
"In principle, I think they should be equal, yes."

           Female partner (gradually changing her attitude from mild annoyance to a friendly smile as she sees
           her partner wriggling):
"Well, perhaps there are two sides to this question. For myself, to be honest, I think the principle of equality is
good, but deep in my heart I can't stop the feeling that mothers do better. And I'm sure that when we have
children I will never be able to go away for the whole day and leave my children to ... (partner) or anyone else.
So I think that my first answer was a bit too much on the side of how it should be..."
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----------
--------


As already stated in Chapter 2, the aim of this study is the development of an instrument for
the assessment of the influence of the interaction between partners on basic life decisions,
such as family formation or labour participation. Validation studies of the Family and Fertility
Survey by the Central Statistics Office in the Netherlands, demonstrated clear differences in
the answers given in different situations. Partners who had been interviewed separately
changed their answering patterns in a debate, triggered by the comparison of their results. The
method used for triggering the communication was discussed in a number of focus groups, all
of which resulted in similar types of comments: the confrontation technique was judged to be
at best risky, and should not be utilized without taking a great deal of precaution. Several


                                                                                                                                     23
members of the focus groups pointed to the risk that the confrontation technique might
provoke problems between partners with less stable relationships. Interestingly enough, all
couples in the focus groups stated that their own relationship had not suffered from the
technique, but since the quality of their relationship was above average, the risk could not be
taken with other couples.13

Therefore in the first phase of the study, which involved 20 couples, extensive precautions
were taken. All the couples who had been selected through adds in local newspapers and the
resulting snowballing effect - were informed from the start that the confrontation interview
would take place. Furthermore, the interviewing was done by a team consisting of a very
experienced interviewer and an experienced social psychologist. Half of the interviews were
videotaped, and this was done with the consent of the interviewed. As for the reactions of the
respondents, these were without exception very favourable or even enthusiastic. Most of the
interviews, which were planned to last approximately two hours, took over three hours, and in
some cases the interviewers were even asked to prolong the conversation. One of the reasons
for this success, as a number of respondents stated, seemed to be that partners in general do
not communicate very often on the subject of family formation, and the interview sometimes
revealed a number of things about their own position and the position of their partner. One of
the conclusions of the study was that - for this sample - the general level of communication
between partners on the subject of childbirth was rather low.

The interviews that were after an extensive testing phase constructed consisted of the
following elements:
- A preliminary phase, in which couples were recruited by purposive sampling according to a
quota scheme. In this phase, contact by phone was made after a couple was spotted by the
interviewer, by a previously interviewed couple, or by some intermediary person. Next,
verbal (or, if preferred, written) information was given about goals and procedures.
- The administration of a number of questionnaires for basic background data and
psychodiagnostic tests by mail prior to the interview.
- The interview itself, containing three separate parts, two of which were individual and one
with the couple together:
         Part 1: one of the partners is interviewed face-to-face while the other one is filling in a
        questionnaire in a separate room; afterwards, the roles are reversed.
         Part 2: the interaction interview, face-to-face with both partners.
The interviews were done by experienced (female) interviewers: the results of the first phase
indicated that the precautionary use of two interviewers would not be necessary. The
interviews were audiotaped, part of them was fully transcribed, part only summarized. In the
analysis however the summaries proved to be of less value for the coding so for this
international study we went back to full transcriptions. Further the psychodiagnostic tests
proved to be of little use for the analysis, partly because of the smallness of the sample, partly
because the sample consisted of rather „normal‟ people so the differences on these tests were
small.

For this study therefore the interviews consisted of the two parts described above: first a
separate interview on the family formation process with both partners during which the other
one filled in a questionnaire on family formation issues. Then an interview with the couple in


13        This pattern is common when people are asked to compare themselves to the rest of the population. Over 80 percent
of those with driver=s licenses, for instance, label themselves as better than average. Apparently most of the interviewed
couples show the same tendency to underestimate the quality of the partner relationships of others.


                                                                                                                        24
which the interviewer could make use of the differences in their opinions in the previous
interview. The joint interview was conducted (very) open, only using so-called lead –in
questions such as: „When did you decide on having your first child and how did this go
exactly‟14.

The interviews were conducted in the following countries and regions: Austria, Flanders,
Germany, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Wallonia. For
each countries a country coordinator was selected. Country coordinators had two meetings
during the project, the first one at the beginning in Vienna for the general instruction on the
interviewing, the second one in The Hague for the coding procedures.

In all countries respondents were selected bases on criterions such as the difference between
rural and urban areas, the working or nonworking of female partners/mothers and the number
of children already present.

 Afterwards all transcriptions were sent to Vienna for another (central) coding round.
Differences in coding were decided by a third coder. Finally all interviews were coded again
separately in The Hague. Based on these combined codings country summaries and a general
overview report were written.
For the coding categories see further in this chapter (the summary of the previous result with
respect to content). It should be stated that the main emphasis for the interpretation of the
results should lie on the overall description on the (in sum) 240 interviews. The question here
is of course the overall replication of the results in the previous study. The country reports
focus on the differences between countries but with a sample size of just 20 interviews for
each country the conclusions out of these interviews should be seen as merely indicative.


4.2.     Main results of the previous project.


The main conclusions of the previous study (pilots in the Netherlands and Flanders) can be
summarized as follows. First,with respect to the roles of the partners, there is a difference.
Women tend to be the ones with the „pushing‟ role: they think about children in an earlier
stage of the relationship, want to have them at an earlier time and in general report to have to
find all kind of policies to involve men in the idea and process of family formation. Inversely,
men in general are not adverse to the idea of having children (often on the contrary) but they
are more concerned with the issue of the „material conditions‟ that is money, housing,
stability of job etc. For women the most important question seems to be the quality of the
social situation, that is the relations with the most important people involved. This includes
her concern on the quality of the relationship with her partner and the question whether there
will be enough time to have an adequate family life, to spend enough time with her children.
The second conclusion bears on the interaction process itself. It is in most cases seen as the
most important determinant of the decision process: the influence of others, such as family or
parents, is usually described as very small. Family formation is seen as a very personal
decision to be made by the partners themselves. Interestingly most couples also reported

14
          In the previous study the interviewers took a life course perspective, that is they went together with the
respondents through the stages in their life and family formation cycle. But in practice this proved to be a very
bad procedure because couples had the feeling they had to repeat themselves: in fact they tended to select the life
events with the most „salience‟ for both of them almost automatically because they were seen as a good
illustration of their relationship.


                                                                                                                 25
„implicit‟ communication: the issue was not often debated overtly but rather advanced
through mutual understanding, interpretation of signals, etc. For instance women often
reported the strategy of visiting other people with baby‟s meanwhile checking how their
partner responded.
The third conclusion concerned the difference for first, second and following children. The
interaction process was rather similar for first and third children but different for second
children. The second child almost always was reported to be (very) wished to make the family
„complete‟: a lot of parents wanted a second child „for the sake of the first one‟. In general the
single child family was seen as not an ideal place for a child to grow up in. With respect to
first children the interaction process was important and took place along the lines of the first
and second conclusion: implicit and with men somewhat more reluctant. With respect to third
children in fact the process for the first child was replicated, but of course with a very
different starting position. Since the family was seen already as „complete‟ the (male type)
arguments of money, housing, having personal time etc. were more important in (not)
deciding for a third child than with the first one. Or to put it in another way: blocking a first
child is a far more serious issue than blocking a third child. With respect to fourth and
following children we found the issue of „familism‟ to be very important: large families are
founded by people that from the very start consider children and parenthood to be the most
important issue in life, so there is (very) little debate. That is of course when both partners are
of the same opinion. In sum, there seemed to be two crucial moments when childbirth was
discussed – and often delayed: before the first and before the third child.
The fourth conclusion concerned the interaction of partners on another issue, the participation
of women in the labour market (the participation of men never was an issue). Though most
women preferred to keep their jobs there also was a general feeling among them that
childcaring would be their job. Women felt especially responsible for the quality of family
life, but to avoid misunderstanding, they described this quality in a multi-facetted way.
Quality of family life also involved having enough money and space (housing): in general
therefore the strategy of partner focussed on splitting core responsibilities so that all aspects
could be covered. The background for chosing this strategy however differed strongly. In a
number of cases it was an issue of adherence to traditional role differences, in a number of
cases it was seen as a more pragmatical matter. Since most men are older, have better jobs and
will not face career problems for reason of pregnancy leave and such it is seen as the logical
choice that they concentrate on the task of providing the money. In a number of cases women
also reported that the „negotiations‟ on the division of paid and unpaid work in fact had not
taken place at all because of the time and effort the negotiation process leading to the birth of
the first child already had been a long and strenuous effort.
 Finally an overall fifth conclusion was formulated bearing on the most important
characteristic of the negotiation process, being described as altruism. Though the use of words
such as „negotiation process‟ and „financial effects‟ may give the impression that family
formation is a process more and more affected by economic calculations the overall goal of
almost all parents (to be) is to garantuee the well-being of the child. Partners discuss these
matters with great concern for the effects on children and always taking their perspective. Of
course they realize that a number of decisions may have negative effects, but their strategies
are always focussing on the positive result for the family. All parents are aware on the
beforehand that their children will be very expensive and time-consuming and that it will not
be possible to continue their situations as (for instance) dual career family with a lot of social
contacts.


4.3.    Main results of the interviews in this project.


                                                                                                26
The central aim of the project was to test the methods of the interaction interview for use in
other countries. Therefore we will first discuss this issue, then we will go into the results with
respect to the content. The analysis is limited to the interaction interview itself, since the
previous individual interviews and questionnaires mainly have the function to serve as lead-in
and provide the interviewer with information to use in the interaction interview.

Methodological Analysis
First and foremost the interaction interviews turned out to be a good way to approach the
question what determines the decision for children in all countries, since it was recognized as
primarily a matter of negotiation between the partners. The main goal of the method with lead
in individual interviews is to stimulate the communication and interaction between partners.
And indeed the respondents are very motivated doing the interviews. In some cases the
interviews triggered further discussions on that issue. Nevertheless one has to bear in mind
that the confronting technique can cause conflicts between the partners. So it has to be
ensured that the interviewer can cope with this situation and furthermore is able to intervene
as a mediator. Using the confronting technique therefore requires an adequate professional
education and training of the interviewer: this issue has been confirmed by the evaluation of
the interviewers in this project.

The methodological approach is applicable to all participating countries as the core elements
(What settles the matter for having children?What difference does partner interaction make?)
are relevant in each country. The countryspecific pecularities in tackling these issues have
been taken into account by the way of conducting the interviews. As each country has
recruited its own interviewers those people were familiar with the context of values and
beliefs etc. in their country and.

It turned out to be an important precondition that all interviews were fully transcribed
especially with regard to the chosen coding procedure (local, central and reconciliation coding
needed the extended texts to compare interpretations). The transcriptions of the original
interviews have been used for clarification in the coding procedure. It is a point of attention
however that the translations are done properly: in this project the translations were left to the
country coordinators and this sometimes caused problems.

One of the great challenges in trying to apply this method in a transnational context is to find
the golden mean between a centralised or de-centralised procedure. The advantage of having
national interviewers and coders lies in a high degree of „background-knowledge‟. This
knowledge is a very important precondition for successful interviewing. Furthermore the
interviews can be conducted in the native language. The disadvantage is a very heterogeneous
interviewing and coding procedure which may reduce the comparability of the results. In
future research with this method it will be necessary to give a lot of attention to the training of
the interviewers, for instance by using an iterative procedure in which the interviews are
transcribed and coded as soon as possible so there can be control and correction during the
procedures.
It proved to be very useful that interviewers gave a short impression of the context of the
interview afterwards.

With respect to the coding procedures it proved to be a problem to work with a coding matrix
that had been set in advance, based on the results of the previous study. Inevitable country
differences posed problems and led to debates on the necessity of adapting the matrix. In the


                                                                                                27
end in fact only a couple of broad categories (such as salience or dominance of one of the
partners) could be reproduced for all countries (see Appendix 7). For the rest it was necessary
to go back to the broad conclusions of the previous study – see below – and recode for these
issues (for example the difference in focus between males and females, the difference in type
of discussion with respect to first, second and following children).


Content analysis (general)
Before describing the general results some remarks about the sample are necessary. Due to the
fact that only 20 interviews per country were possible, it proved to be difficult to bring all
relevant groups in the sample. The main bias is between urban and rural respondents: in some
countries such as Spain and Austria the sample was almost entirely urban, in other countries
urban respondents dominated the sample. With respect to other variables such as the
distinction between single and dual earners and the number of children a rather good division
of characteristics was established. For the details of the sample we refer to Appendix 7.

With respect to the content it is important to see first that there are variables of influence that
do not having a lot to do with interaction as such. Factors being important for the decision to
have/not to have a(nother) child differ for instance among age cohorts. For older couples their
age can even be considered as one of the main factors (as we do have a lot of couples above
age 30 it was very often the issue). Further the wellbeing of the other children is very
important – especially for couples with one child. Most of the couples think that it is not good
for the child to be the only one. In that context the “ideal spacing” between the children is
discussed. We have two positions: those couples who are not sure about the manageability
would like to have a longer spacing between the children, i.e. the first child should be more
independent; those couples who focus on the relation between the siblings would prefer a
shorter spacing. The issue at stake here can be compared to the „altruism‟ factor described
above in the previous study: the main issue for parents is the (future) well-being of the child.

Many couples stressed that it is a natural thing to have children – as they have a strong
orientation towards having a family it is only natural to have at least two children. We do find
the “two-child-norm” very often. Striking was also that many couples referred to their family
of origin in argumenting why they would like to have a big family. They enjoyed having
siblings and that‟s why they would like to replicate that pattern. This issue is one of the
marked differences with the previous study: especially in the Netherlands family formation
decisions were seen as (very) private and personal and external influence mostly was denied.

Other external factors mentioned most often were the financial situation and the housing
conditions. Individual job prospects and the division of labour are only in some interviews
important (but in those cases the discussion is very tough). This indicates that there are
different groups of couples with differt „important issues‟. We will go into this further in the
concluding chapter, where we try to distinguish three subgroups.

Differences between childless couples and couples with children
Due to the missing experience the discussion between childless couples is more general and
theoretical – therefore we do have the whole range of factors possibly influencing the wish for
a child. Childless couples tend to be very philosophical and figure out the ideal concept. They
are orientated towards a “perfect situation”, they talk about the way of dividing tasks and the
parental leave (which seldom is issue among the couples with children….probably as a result
of a division already established). Whereas for childless couples the idea of having a family


                                                                                                 28
(emotional aspect) is most decisive, for couples with two or more children the spacing
between the children and practical aspects like housing conditions, the financial situation or
the manageability in general are most relevant. If you compare the interviews you can put it in
a nutshell: After the first child everything turns out to be completely different than you
thought it would be. The arguments will be brought down to earth. That is why, similar to the
results of the previous study, the influence of partners, especially male partners focussing on
material issues, seems to be stronger in deciding on third and following children (the second
child is taken for granted or strongly desired).

Differences between men and women
As was the case in the previous study, men tend to put forward the “hard facts” – especially
arguing against having a(nother) child. They themselves but also women see them as the more
realistic part of the couple. They also want to be able to give their children a good education
and financial security. In case men push the decision to have a child they also put forward
emotional reasons: the two most relevant factors are the personal experience of living in a big
family and the wish to live on in their children.

Decision making on that and when
Most pairs think about having a(nother) child. Therefore most of the couples were talking
about when. Striking agreement was – again similar but for most countries much stronger than
in the previous study - that men and women agreed that the final decision was (and also
should be) taken by the woman, i.e. if they have already reached an agreement on having
children, the when should be a female decision. The women were in general ahead, they first
raised the issue. The interviewed men were also in favour of having children, but they were
not sure about the time and therefore would have preferred to wait. But almost all men would
accept the women‟s decision on the when, if there is an agreement on the that. In general
women want to discuss and think about that issue much more than men do – even if it is on a
very hypothetical level.

Dominance
In many interviews we can see female dominance, because men do not want to take the final
decision. For men there are two ways of arguing: First, the point in time is not right, the
decision for a child would preferably be postponed. Second, women are more affected by the
child: they have to carry the child nine months and they will have to do the work. Therefore it
is only fair that they should have the final decision. The interviewed men tend to refer to the
concept of motherhood as a „natural‟ and for the decision to have children most decisive
thing (you sometimes get the impression that they use that argument to legitimate their
“refusal” to decide). Women agree that men are less affected by the decision to have a child
and that women should determine the final decision. If women are sure that they want to have
a child, they tend to convince their male partners with their attitudes. It holds true that men‟s
desire for children grows along with the relationship. To put it simple women follow the
strategy: „Constant dripping wears away the stone.‟ This procedure again is largely similar to
the findings of the previous study in which the Dutch and Flemish women reported to use all
kinds of techniques to assess and foster the „parenting position‟ of their partners.

We conclude this general overview with a quote from one of the interviews in the UK, giving
a fairly good impression of the average interaction.

Int: so who do you think does determine it, dominates the decision
M: I don't think any one of us dominates the decision. If I didn't want to have children, I


                                                                                              29
wouldn't have children, I would say I don't want to do that, even if you were saying you
wanted to, I would have to say, no I don't want to
F: I agree, but I'm the one that's now saying...I'm...
M: you're making it imperative that we have children soon. And I'm going along with that.
F: I don't think I'm dominating the decision, but I am a stronger force behind it
M: we both want to have children, but you want to have them now, and I'm allowing you to
dominate that situation
F: because you're happy with that
M: it doesn't bother me one way or the other, if I had the choice, I wouldn't [do it yet] but I
don't really have a choice...
F: you mean because of our age though, not because I'm not giving you a choice
M: yeah, I'm allowing that to go ahead, allowing that to take over



4.4.   Results for the specific countries.

In the following „country reports‟ the results of the previous project, that is the Dutch and
Flemish respondents, have been taken as point of reference for the differences between
countries. In reading this reports it should not be overlooked that it concerns a number of
differences based on an identical basic pattern described in the paragraph above: the overall
conclusion is that the interactions between partners in different countries bear quite striking
similarities (see chapter 5).


AUSTRIA
F: Yesterday we have discussed it
M: Last year, yesterday, I do not know.
F: Yesterday evening I have asked you.
M: I do not remember, we always talk. For me it was difficult that I go up to two children,
because of you.
F: I have raised your number of children.
M: Yes, my opinion is: one. Yes.
F: Yesterday you have said: two.
M: Yes, hm.
F: And when I asked you about three, you have said: three, no, not with me, but two are OK.
M: Yes, eh. But three, phoui!.
F: That was a compromise.
M: That means we have the same opinion? We have a solution?
F: Yes, with two.
M: I did not get that yesterday.
There is a lot of debate on children between partners in Austria, so we can hardly call it an
„implicit‟ issue. One of the reasons is perhaps that compared to other countries there is
relative quite a bit of equality on the issue which of the partners is the first to think of children
and to discuss it. After the debate started it may go on for a while and any position is feasible.
Overall the roles do resemble the standard ones we know from the previous study. Men tend
to focus on material issues and they are also the ones that block the birth of a further child:
also in childless couples. But there are also women blocking the childwish of their partners
because there is no trust yet in the future division of roles or in the quality of the partnership.



                                                                                                  30
And partnership is important: almost half of the respondents spontaneously start talking about
this as one of the most decisive factors for family building. This search for relational quality
can be very complicated or to put it in a different way: there is real „interaction thinking‟ from
both sides. „I think we should decide in common. I wouldn‟t like someone to say he/she has
asserted or given in‟. Men and women anticipate often on each other‟s thoughts and feelings
and are quite unhappy with the idea of unbalance.
So we can in fact distinghuish two ways in the Austrian interaction procedures, a rather soft
and a rather hard one. In the soft style there has to be mutual agreement15, in the hard style
one of the partners puts the pressure on. Such as one of the women telling her partner that she
would leave if there wouldn‟t be a second one. Or as one of the women experienced when her
husband refused to have a third child „ignoring my deap desires‟. In general it is quite clear
that the male position is centered around the impositions that children can put on you, both
material and emotional. As for the latter, one of the father put it in a very clear way: „A child
has a positive effect on family life but not on relationships‟. Or another one: „You consider
the time with your child as time of your own and I don‟t‟.
Further, the negotiations take place in a rather unfavourable environment, especially in the
city (Vienna). A number of respondents state that it is very difficult to cope in the city for lack
of a social network (that often is in the region of origin. There is a lack of provisions: some
partners talk about the same kind of social planning as in Germany a lot of couples did, but
the level of the financial facilities is not that high that this is an option that takes away all
problems. And that brings us back to the opening quotes in which the second child has to be
conquered on a male partner that seems to have some difficulties to understand what his wife
really wants.


BELGIUM (WALLONIA)
„In Belgium you feel you have to work‟ seems to be a crucial statement. You have to work to
get a level of sustainment for your family that is adequate16. The respondents are mostly
double-earner couples (labour participation for women in Belgium is high), but there is a lot
of dissatisfaction with all kinds of aspects of the situation. First and foremost parents feel that
the provisions are inadequate. „People that cannot rely on their family for help, I don‟t know
how they do it‟. That is probably why the couples in rural areas are more happy, they have
this kind of surroundings that enables them to have a (big) family.
It seems fair to say that the Belgian parents (to be) are rather child-minded, especially the
women. A lot of them has a clear familistic attitude, wanting to have three and more children.
Their husbands are not aversive to this idea, but they know very well that it is gonna cost. A
couple of them even state that „you have to be crazy to have (a lot of) kids‟. Yet, there seems
to be very little blocking17: if children are desired but not born it often is a medical issue or it
is an issue of women themselves deciding against it for various reasons. In general the family
formation leads to a more traditional division of labour, women reducing working hours, but
not that much. One of the reasons given for this is the simple issue of wanting to keep what

15
           There were quite a number of university people in the sample, perhaps this gives a bit of a negotiation
surplus?
16
          Further, there seems to be some social pressure. Women staying at home risk not being taken very
serious and to loose contact. As one of the respondents said: „I wouldn‟t dislike the idea but with everybody else
working it would be no great fun….”
17
          For instance, there was a – litterally – touching moment in one of the interviews when a couple
discussed their fifth (!) child in a delicate way, the women stating how much she liked baby‟s but also realizing
that it was tiresome in many ways, the man subsequently reaching towards her and stating that he wasn‟t
opposed to a fifth child at all….they conclude discussing how nice it would be if she happened to have a little
accident..


                                                                                                                 31
one has: „When you‟ve lived for years with two salaries it is very hard to reduce it since the
costs also go up with the new child‟. Another reason is the cost of provisions such as
childcare: „sometimes it is cheaper to stop working‟. In sum Belgium seems to present a mix
of a rather traditional familistic attitude of both partners with a rather modern situation with
respect to the division of labour. Therefore the interactions between partners seem far less
troubled than in other countries by the decision making process whether there will be children
or not and whether women will stay on the labour market or not. Both issues are decided on
the beforehand: there will be children and labour-participation. The thing is that life gets very
tight in a more organizational way and that again leaves little room for innovation such as
caretaking fathers: “it is clear now that the division of the tasks we have now is the easiest one
from an organizational point of view. But it is not the most balanced one. I would like to be
more available.” With the exemption of the scarce non-traditional father most men are not that
available and that puts a heavy burden on the women combining childcare with not-very-
small jobs. Still, women lead the way towards children, men follow without remorse.


GERMANY
According to these interviews, German couples have a good record in planning. It is one of
the countries (Austria is the other one) in which rather a lot of women are not the first to start
about children. A number of German couples report to have strong agreement on the child
issue based on equal convictions and having debated it thoroughly. If however there is a
difference of opinion, in general they agree that the female vote is or should be decisive. One
partner expressed his opinion not wanting to have a third child: “I‟m quite sure. But when it
happens I won‟t be angry‟.
Females taking part in planning also entails that women can be seen in the more „blocking
role‟. It is striking that in Germany a lot of women explicitly express their concern for a good
financial situation. Further, in the situation where they have an education they want to use for
a career, they are very hesitant to give this up18. But in these cases the dilemma is clear and
(also) debated overtly. For instance in one of the interviews the interviewer commented: „It
looks like you do not really trust him‟. And indeed the number of men expressing interest in
caring duties was quit small. This attitude however corresponds with the feelings of the
majority of the women. “A child is a task you can‟t compare with paid work‟ said one of them
and this is one of many ways it was expressed19.
It stands to reason therefore that a lot thought is given to the combination of motherhood and
paid work and in these thoughts a major role is played by social security planning. Couples
are very well aware of the state provisions, they know how much of the costs for childcare
will be covered by child allowance and above all they know the parental leave system. Quite a
number of the respondents reported that the timing of their children depended heavily on the
availability of these provisions, for instance having a steady job or being employed for more
than a year entitling to paid leave.




18
          One of the male partners wanted to have children as soon as possible, “….but I‟m not the point‟‟
19
          “More than any other career it was important for me to have a family“”. “”Simply the feeling to have
the right man for getting children.
But a number of respondents also reported doubts with respect to circumstances: My heart says to have the
children now, but my head says no” Many woman also comment on the financial situation.


                                                                                                                 32
IRELAND
Based on this sample20 the Irish have a traditional family life or will have it. Compared to
other countries the number of female partners worrying about their careers was quite small.
And if so it was in fact not much of a question which would be the most important. „My
career is sort of sidelined for the next ten years‟ may be one of the most characteristic quotes.
It should be noted that what we call familism – putting your family in front of anything else –
is also a characteristic of Irish males. They want families also and very often express how
fond they are of children. Often they are described as very good daddy‟s by their
partners…but we will have to keep in mind that we are talking about Irish daddy‟s. Their
contribution to family life in practice is often very low21: the next person to take care of
children most of the time is the mother‟s mother. In a number of interviews it was for instance
clearly stated that the willingness of grandmother to take care of another child was a heavy
issue.
For the childless couples in the sample, usually of a somewhat younger generation, the family
mostly was discussed as a romantic ideal. In which indeed the female partner on the
beforehand preferred staying as much with the children as possible. The „gold medal‟ for this
attitude no doubt has to go to one of the respondents with a career in athletics stating: “If it
did happen that I got pregnant a year before the Olympics in 2004, that‟s the way it happens‟.
Children should come first: in almost all the interviews on second or third children the main
argument is the happiness that will follow if they have brothers or sisters. Male partners are
assumed to have their own role and this does not involve practical taking care of children..or
even raising them. The typical Irish daddy is more playful than controlling and of no real use
in educating the children. One of the fathers for instance described himself as a „gentle bloke‟
but in the opinion of his wife this should be read as „softie‟.
This situation probably also explains why the „male blocking‟ of further children is a bit
postponed. The men are in favour of bigger families and they are not that much in fear of
having to make big sacrifices. The usual statement for males is that there will be no difference
for them if a second or third child will be born. After the number of three however things get
a bit different because four or even five children are really seen to be a „thing-in-itself‟. And
at that moment daddy is not so gentle: a substantial number of males in this sample clearly put
a stop on more children, though their wives would have liked another one. It should be
mentioned however that there were also women that for various reasons decided that another
child would make things very difficult. It was expressed a couple of times for instance that
with four children it would be absolutely impossible (or too expensive) to have someone else
take over, that it would simply take away the last bits of private time left or that it would be
bad for the children to get even less attention than they did now.
Finally, it is also a characteristic of the Irish couples to be pragmatic about the child-issue.
They are in favour of getting children so there is – certainly not for the first two – heavy
debate on whether or even when. They discuss things quite overt because there are no
differences of opinion – once again, this seems to start after the third child – and therefore it
seems to be easy for them to let „the circumstance decide‟. They plan children around new
houses or new jobs, they plan them because they want to have them close together in age. In
short they hold the opinion that „if you waited until everything was perfect you‟d never be
ready‟. There is however no doubt at all that the one that should be ready for it is the female
partner.


20
         One of the characteristics of this sample was that rather a lot of the male partners (25 percent) was self-
employed and lived in a rural area…..but this may be very representative?!
21
         This was not hidden in the interviews, it was treated as part of the game. One of the mothers for
instance stated „He never lost a day‟s work over the children‟


                                                                                                                  33
NETHERLANDS             (INCLUDING FLANDERS)
The main results for the Flemish and the Dutch couples are described in detail in the report of
the previous project and summarized above. Since the focus of the previous analysis however
was on the general process of interaction and the similarities between these countries in the
„basics‟ we concentrate now based on the recoded interviews on the differences. Since there
are now other countries interviewed now these differences can be compared with others.
First the pattern of Flanders resembles indeed the pattern of the French speaking part of
Belgium. In Belgium respondents talk a lot more about the external circumstances and also
mention an influence of social provisions on their own situation. Further there is a real
difference in the importance attached to the relationship. Almost all Belgian couples mention
the importance of the relationship with their partner (not to be put in danger) whereas in the
Netherlands this issue is mentioned hardly at all: parenthood is seen as a (very) individual and
private decision on which actually no influence should be exercised at all by anyone. The
respondents in the Netherlands in this issue are similar to Germany and Austria where also the
personal choice of the individual is seen as very important. But there is also a similarity with
the situation in the United Kingdom: respondents in the Netherlands do not report overt and
explicit debates on the issue but a lot of implicitness. This „intermediate‟ position between the
Anglosaxon and the Continental model may be explained by the social situation: there are
little or no provisions for the combination of work and family but there is a strong
motherhood ideology and a good social network for individuals (single mothers get a very
good allowance). In sum there seems to be a sort of „virtual independence‟ of women: they
know they would not need the incomes of their husbands if there were real problems but
meanwhile they settle for the traditional pattern. For the rest, as already stated above, the
general pattern is similar to other countries: women start thinking about children and try to
involve their partners, the first child is seen as very important, the second comes for the sake
of the first and the male influence goes through the material issues and gets stronger in the
discussion on the third child.


SPAIN
Compared to the Dutch and Flemish respondents, women in Spain tended to be rather more
concerned with the issue of money. Though a lot of males reported concerns for the material
situation with respect to the decision to have children, women brought this issue with almost
equal salience. It should be noted however that in most interviews this issue was linked
heavily to housing. The majority of the interviews took place with people in a large urban area
and the possession of a big enough flat was often mentioned as a necessary prerequisite for
family formation. The second most important impediment, mentioned far more by women
then by men, was the availability of time. This of course was strongly related to the issue of
housing and money: having to work to pay for housing reduces the amount of time available
and vice versa staying at home costs money. In a lot of interviews there was a debate on
statements such as „where can live three, there can live four‟ but most parents thought this
statement to be no longer adequate since the needs for children nowadays were far more
complicated than before: it was not an issue of food but of education and social relations to be
maintained. Further in a relatively large number of interviews (five out of twenty) there was
mentioning of health risks or even health impediments, delaying childbirth.
With respect to the partner in the „driving seat‟ – one of the males described the situation in
this words – there was no question that women were the ones with their foot on the gas….or
the brake. With respect to this last issue: there was a very clear difference between the couples
with and without children with respect to a lot of issues. The (four) childless couples were


                                                                                              34
dominated by the wish of the female partner not to abandon their job (or to get one) and in
two cases it was clear that the male partner had a more prominent childwish than the female
partner. Quote: “If we were rich we would have at least five children (male). No, not more
than two (female)”. For couples with children the situation was inverse. Most partners clearly
stated that it had been the „natural‟ situation that the women wanted children and that the male
partner had agreed to this. Most males to be sure had not been too difficult to convince and
they reported a strong interest in family life and parenthood. Some of them even reported
adjustment of their own timetables to be able to have more interaction with their children.
(Once again, since most couples lived in an urban area, the number of „nontraditional‟ males
may be relatively high). In the majority of the couples however a situation was reported in
which women had to do some effort, wait longer than she intended or even had been
unsuccessful in wanting another child. Quite a few couples reported on what we might call the
„accident method‟. In this situation the male partner is or has been overtly against another
child but in case his partner might get pregnant he will or did not oppose any further. A
number of quotes demonstrates these kind of interactions22.
On the issue of having a second child there is almost complete agreement whether couples
already have it or still want to have it: second children are good for the first one and for
family life. The only reason supported not to have a second child is a medical one.
The issue of labour participation is dealt with in only some of the interviews explicitly, since
it was not the main topic. If it is discussed the perspective is clearly child-centered that is the
balance of interests between the mother and the child is decided in favour of the child, unless
there is real necessity to earn enough money. One of the mothers for instance states that if she
should go to work for 60.000 ptas she would prefer to stay at home, others state that they are
not very happy to have their children too long in childcare. (Of course there are exemptions
but this is the majority opinion). Further a lot of parents complain about the lack of provisions
in Spain for parenthood and/or the combination of work and family life and it is mentioned
quite a lot that the situation is very different for people being a civil servant or not, the civil
servants having far more job security and better timetables.


SWEDEN
     „You know, had I lived in a country where I didn’t have these opportunities, where one
had to pay for one’s education and everything, where there were no study loans, or anything,
I might have…I am not sure that I would have chosen to have a family and children. I am not.
But also, the fact that you can stay at home with your children without becoming a housewife.
Because on the other hand I think it would be terrible if when giving birth to a child and
you’d have to go back to work in three months. I mean you are kind of fragile afterwards. I
wouldn’t say that we are spoiled here in Sweden, because I think parental leave is a right
really, but it still feels very good to have it.’
The quote above gives the best possible summary of the situation in Sweden, that is of the
situation for the majority of the interviewed couples. The decision for parenthood seems to be
as much a female issue as it is in a lot of other countries, but in most cases these women work

22
          I2, woman: “We are very happy with our child and she could be enough (sighs)”
          I4, woman: “He doesn‟t know but when my second boy was only a few months old, I told a girlfriend
that I wanted …., the question was how to tell him….(third child was born after six years)”
          I14, male: “..she didn‟t persuade me …verbally, it happened one day I was half asleep at the siesta time,
in the sofa…who can resist the enchantment of a woman….I was aware that I wasn‟t taking any prevention but I
said to myself….we are not going to have that bad luck..”. To be sure, most males report that afterwards they are
happy with the child and it seems to be a good „way out‟. Three males for instance state literally that they
personally wouldn‟t have another one but if it happened as an accident…so it seems to be a way of overcoming
the difficult situation in which a man on rational grounds decides against children.


                                                                                                                35
quite a lot of hours a week and are not willing to change this situation structurally. What they
absolutely favour is to be away from the labour market temporally. And to do so in as equal as
possible a division of tasks with their partners. Quite a lot of women report however on „some
difficulties‟ in reaching this objective. „One is kind of traditional despite the fact that one does
not want to be…‟ Or even: “Maybe I can go down to 25 % or 12,5%…(man)….Then we
won‟t have anymore children (woman)‟.
Interestingly, the baseline for the interaction corresponds quite well with the general pattern in
other countries. The idea to have children (or: when to have them) is usually brought by her
and the motivation of most women lies in such issues as their natural role, a desire to make a
life more complete. (It‟s life really, a small child, there is nothing better than that). And the
male blocking or postponement techniques usually depend on issues such as time, money and
housing: this is mentioned by a lot of couples, especially those living in the city. If there is a
difference of opinion, the debate is quite overt. One of the interviewed women for instance
stated that „she couldn‟t deceive…‟ her partner on this issue23. In this respect there is a clear
difference between Sweden and for instance Spain (and ….CHECK) where this kind of
behaviour is seen by lots of men and women as sort of a logical solution to a difficult
problem. If on the other hand, there is implicitness, usually this is in situations where couples
are rather of the same opinion: usually couples in which both partners share a rather
„familistic‟ attitude, being convinced from the very start that having a family is important.
Quite a striking feature in this respect is the large influence that Swedish couples attribute to
their social environment. Not only parents and siblings but also friends build very important
examples for the kind of life they want to have. They refer very often to the number of
children in their own parental homes, their (good) relations with siblings and the size of the
families they know. („I believe we were the last couple to have children‟. „Everyone we know
have at least two children‟). Though the sample of course is far too small to make any
decisive statement it seems to be the case that the kind of network you are in is important for
the kind of family formation decisions you take …or of course inversely, that the kind of
network is sought you feel good about. But compared for instance to the interviews in the
Netherlands, where almost all couples stated that parenthood and family size were very
personal matters, it is striking how often social network influences are mentioned in Sweden
as very important.
The characteristic of the Swedish family formation process that is of overarching importance
however is what we may call social protection planning (similar to for instance Germany and
Austria). For more than half of the interviewed couples the provisions in the social system,
especially the arrangements for parental leave24 are quite decisive in planning issues. A
number of men reports that this kind of security takes away a lot of the uncertainty in the
economic sense, a lot of women see this as a garantuee that they still have a choice what to do
after this leave period. To be sure, a lot of couples also criticize the parental support system
for a number of inadequacies. There is for instance a shortage in childcare facilities and the
child allowances are far from covering a substantial part of the costs of children. As one of the
fathers put it: „It was a lot of Arlanda (flying) and a lot of NK (expensive shopping)…now it
is shopping food cheap at a large scale.‟ And to finish again with a quote, quite a lot of
parents signal this difference between the stages in the lifecycle with and without children, but
one of them put it very explicit:



23
         And inversely a man wanting to have four children was told to take care of the delivery for himself.
24
         There is a generous system and a month daddy-leave but moreover if you get you second child within a
certain number of months from the first one you can stay at home for a long period with a substantial percentage
of your wages…


                                                                                                              36
  ‘Many of our friends live their own life (without children) and make a lot of things for
themselves. I think the government could take some money of them and redistribute it to
schools and to the children’


UNITED KINGDOM
The overall English pattern may be characterized as rather „flegmatic‟. Most partners show –
often implicit – agreement on the most important issues such as money and housing. If there
are impediments for family formation or having another child they usually are to be found in
these practical matters. Adequate housing is used sometimes by men as an argument to
postpone and especially in low income families money, but also in the middle classes
(expensive schooling!) is mentioned as an impediment. A mother of two for instance stated
that winning the lottery would have at least three other children as an effect. On the other
hand quite a number of couples expressed as their opinion that it was just a matter of
accommodation to circumstances.25
The general pattern we saw in the pilot study of woman „throwing the first stone‟ was clearly
reproduced. Almost all couples agreed that it had been or still was the female partner raising
the issue and pushing it further. Male partners univocally held the opinion that parenthood
ultimately was a decision that should be left to women for a number of reasons. Such as the
fact that it was a natural thing and you shouldn‟t stop it because the wish was so strong. In
fact a couple of women referred to themselves as having been, being or expecting to be
„‟brooding‟. Further reasons were the fact that women were the ones to carry the child for
nine months….and do the bulk of the work thereafter. In fact most couples held a rather
traditional view of family life: also in the higher educated families it was assumed or was
already a fact that the man should be the breadwinner. Some women made comments on the
inequality and some men made remarks on their „possible‟ contributing to the caring in the
future when things got better at their jobs, but in general there seemed to be no conflicts on
this issue. Perhaps as one of the mothers put it, „as long as I know he is working hard, I don‟t
mind‟. Most men reported changing into a more domestic type of male, reducing time at
sports or other leisure activities (in some cases however this reduction was not taken very
seriously by their partners).
With respect to the motivation for second and third children the pattern also corresponded to
the previous study. Second children were seen as a logical consequence, or even explicitly
motivated for the sake of the first one („I could do without but it wouldn‟t be fair for…).
Some couples however preferred a bigger space between their children, so that they could
give them maximum attention. As for the first child the pattern in (still) childless couples did
not differ greatly. The main reasons for having children were that it is a „natural‟ thing and
that it enriches your life. There was also some mentioning of influence of parents, siblings and
friends: positive experiences were often said to be stimulating. (Positive experiences being a
good time with their own parents, good relations with siblings, nice nephews or children of
friends).
Finally however the fact that things seemed to be going smooth, that most couples had
reached an implicit agreement, does not mean that the family formation process is without any
trouble. As stated above the overall pattern was women taking the lead and in quite a few
cases males obstructed or tried to postpone decisions. In some interviews the negotiations
actually took place during the interview. („Well, if I would get a promotion in the next two
years (man)…That sounds interesting (woman)” And as this example shows the pattern of


25
         For instance: „‟If you haven‟t got it you can‟t spend it‟. Or with respect to changing your style: „you
just go out once a month instead of four times a week..””


                                                                                                                   37
negotiation showed traditional division of roles, men focussing on money, women on
relational issues26.


Once again, to conclude this chapter, the description of country differences is bases on
relatively small samples, which in some cases (Spain, Austria) are all urban, so they just give
an indication of the possible distinctions to be tested in further research.




26
         With the clear exemption of one of the couples, where the breadwinner was female. This reversed the
pattern indeed completely the woman being the one stating that they would have to win the lottery to be able to
sustain a bigger family. This couple by the way also expressed their absolute delight with the opportunity to be
together (she had pregnancy leave, he was at home) for the first half year after the birth of their child.


                                                                                                               38
5.       Conclusions

In this chapter we will summarize the results of the two trails (quantitative and qualitative)
and discuss these results from the perspectives of methodology and content.


QUANTITATIVE RESULTS

         Modernization of the life cycle

The quantitative results indicate that in Europe a „modern life cycle‟ is emerging. The main
characteristics of the modern life cycle are a relative shortening of the family phase and as a
consequence of this the emergence of nonfamily phases (without children). First in some
forerunner countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands we see that the age between 25
and 30 already is dominated by young couples and/or singles (Finland for some ages). In the
countries of „middle Europe‟ they start coming close. If one looks for instance at the data for
France, Germany and the United Kingdom we see at the age of 25 that the group of
singles+couples is between 30 to 50 percent of the group of families (both families with older
and with young children). This indicates that also in these countries large numbers of young
people do not make the step from their „parental family‟ to their own family at once (the
traditional pattern) but they first leave the parental home to live as single or with a partner27
and then decide together to build a family. In the southern countries (including Austria) this
pattern may be emerging on a smaller scale in some regions but for the countries as a whole
less than one out of five households between 25 and 30 consists of a childless couple, with
singles being virtually absent. In these countries we see also that the extended family with
grandparents or other family members living in the household still is quite strongly
represented.

For Europe as a whole the combination of these groups gives a number of approximately one
out of four nonfamily households at the age between 25 and 30. And again for Europe as a
whole the family loses its position as the most dominant household type at the age of 56: over
half of the households at that moment is composed of a couple or a single living person. And
at the age of 80 singles take over, being over half of the households. This means that in
general there is a period of approximately 25 years in which childless couples dominate the
demographic picture.

Splitting up this issue for the various countries we see that Austria now falls in the middle
group with a borderline of 55, whereas the family domination continues in the other southern
countries till over 60 (especially Italy and Spain are family dominated until the age of almost
65). Interestingly Ireland now takes the place of Austria in joining these southern countries
with a transfer age of over 60. The middle countries further hold to the age of 55, the
European average, but in the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark we see that already at the age

27
         To get a better picture of what is happening we of course need longitudinal data. In the Netherlands
Family Formation Survey a number of retrospective questions are asked to assess the life course development.
At present the results indicate for instance that there is a lot of partnership dissolution in this phase: almost 50
percent of cohabitating couples split up again. The pre-family-phase therefore shows extreme mobility and has
an influence on the delay of family formation of its own: it takes time to build a relationship that is good enough
for family formation. Interestingly the dissolution rates indeed go down at later stages: marriages in the
Netherlands have a dissolution rate of one out of four, marriages with children of one out of eight!


                                                                                                                 39
of 50 couples dominate the field. But since in these countries singles already take over at a
somewhat earlier age, the phase of the childless couple here also is approximately 25 years.

In sum, in the modern life cycle for adults living with children still dominates the ages
between 30 and 55 but strictly counting the number of years it has become far less dominant
than in the traditional life course. To avoid misunderstandings it should be explicitly stated
here that this analysis does not necessarily hold for the psychological level. Since people plan
for children a long time before and since children that left the parental home still are children
in the full sense of contacting, supporting, worrying over etc (perhaps more than ever..) there
is no question that family life still dominates the lifecycle of the modern citizen. (Who of
course still grows up in a family for the first 20 to 30 years). But the issue at stake here is that
this situation has material consequences that are demonstrated in the second and third
indicator, showing the differences in purchasing power in different phases or situations.


         Families are „equally poor‟

The second indicator distinghuished between the purchasing power for three groups for all
ages: families with children, couples and singles. One of the most interesting findings is
perhaps that families in the European Union roughly have the same (standardized) purchasing
power in all countries. Excemptions are Denmark, Belgium and Austria, but in a country as
the Netherlands for instance the economic position of families in their first years does not
differ greatly from the position of families in Greece. The main difference between the
southern and more northern countries is that the purchasing power of families in the latter
gradually increases with age whereas in Spain and Portugal it solidly rest at approximately
5000 standard units (to compare: in Austria it is almost 10.000 units overall).
It may come as a surprise that the income position of singles is generally better than the
income position of families, but with a closer look at the data on the life course this may be
explained. The „average‟ young single will be a student, the average older single will be a
widow and indeed these groups have a relatively low income. In the graphs singles over 65
are not shown because the number of data is too small. The relatively high purchasing power
of singles in the middle ages is explained by the fact that this group in most countries is
relatively small and consists of people with a job (sometimes of course after divorce28) and
since they do not have to pay for dependent family members their purchasing power is not
low.

         Booming for couples

The most interesting group of course is the one of the couples. Or to be more precise: the
group of people before and after the family phase. After all we should not forget that 80
percent of the population will build a family and that they live as a couple before and after
this phase. It is clear that their purchasing power is the highest one at any age in any country.
The differences between countries are twofold. First in some countries the differences
between couples and families are much higher than in other countries. Second in the southern
countries the peak for couples comes later in the lifecycle. Or to put it more precise: at this
moment the purchasing power of older couples is higher than the purchasing power of

28
          It should be noted that single parent families are not represented in these graphs. As can be seen in the
graphs for household/age they always are a minority of families. Since it is a well known and documented fact
that their income is low they are not included in the graphs; the purpose is after all to represent the lifecycle of
the majority of the population.


                                                                                                                   40
younger couples in southern countries. What we see in fact probably is the emergence of a
very powerful new type of household in the northern countries: the well known „dinkies‟
(Double Income No Kids). Since in these countries one out of five to six of the women
remains childless, there is a substantial group of these couples also at later ages. But the vast
majority of these couples will change into a family with as a consequence in most cases a
decrease of labour participation for the female partner and an increase in the costs for
children.

        The family rollercoaster

And it is exactly this pattern that is to be seen in the third indicator. Again it should be noted
that the data are crossectional, that no „real‟ life course can be represented. But especially in
the forerunner countries Denmark and the Netherlands (Finland has an atypical pattern) the
differences in purchasing power for the different age groups are striking in the pre-family
phase already. And it is clear that these difference are caused by the extremely well-to-do
young childless couples. In the Netherlands these couples reach an average of almost 15.000
standard units which is equalled only by older couples in Denmark and Germany. The
Netherlands therefore also is the country in which the „downfall‟ at family formation is the
largest, which may account partly for the fact that Dutch women at the moment postpone their
children already to the age of almost 30. In the middle European countries we see a somewhat
different picture since there is no age at which couples dominate. But it is clear that the
financial position of men and women in their family of origin at the age between 20 and 25 is
much better than their financial position as a parent a couple of years later. Once again, the
correct way to state it would be „their probable position later‟ since in the graphs people of
different ages in the same year are compared. But the tables of Appendix … show that the
comparison goes for the vast majority at 25 living with their own parents to the vast majority
at 35 living with their own children, so the probability to experience a downfall in income is
quite high.29
The same goes of course for the rise in purchasing power at the moment of the transfer to the
post-family stage. This rise is caused by the combination of two factors, that is the increase in
income for people making careers and the falling away of the burdens of children living in the
parental home. Especially when this is the case at a relatively early age, well before
pensioning, we see a rather extended period of economic well-being which is known as the
period of the „Goldies‟ (Golden OLDies).30

Whereas the overall pattern in the northern and middle European countries is similar, there are
striking differences in the „depths‟ of the financial rollercoaster ride that families seem to
experience. It stands to reason that in countries with a smaller overall difference between
households with and without children the downfall at the beginning of the family phase is
smaller and the rise at the end less steep. The causes for these differences are beyond the
scope of this study, but a logical explanation would be the difference in family support
systems in different countries. France for instance gives a lot of financial support to families,

29
         In the Netherlands we followed a large group of couples during the family formation phase (two years
before and two years after) by means of the Income Panel Survey (tax data) and the results corroborated this
hypothesis completely: the downfall ranged from one quarter to one third of the purchasing power.
30
         Presenting these data one often gets the comment that the leaving of the parental home will not decrease
the financial burden for parents because of the high costs of (university) education. This argument however will
only hold for a small percentage of the population, which usually is not the percentage with the lowest income.
The vast majority of the young people do not attend university and the ones that do in a lot of countries get
special support. Most of the young people moreover start having jobs at an early age and will be gainfully
employed before they leave the parental home already.


                                                                                                              41
the Netherlands does not. Another explanation may be in the differences in the percentage of
mothers that stays gainfully employed, which also is much higher in France than in the
Netherlands. The latter would explain for instance that in a country such as Ireland in which
family support is low the differences for the stages in the life course are relatively small. But
this kind of questions in the end can only be answered by looking more closely at the situation
in the countries themselves.

There is one further issue that should be noticed. In almost all countries families with children
between 10 and 15 years of age seem to be worst off. This seems to be the phase they cost
most (for schools for instance) and are not yet able to earn some money of their own. At the
same time their parents are in the middle of the family life cycle, mothers most of the time
working less than at earlier and later stages and men not yet at the peak of their careers.


North versus South

Up till now we discussed the so-called modern pattern emerging in the northern and middle
European countries. For the southern countries this pattern is different. In fact the purchasing
power does not really differ for different age groups. There is a very slight increase for
families with older children (15 onwards) and therefore there is a slight downfall for those
that build their own families. This family formation process is clearly much later than in the
other countries. Further there is no rise at the age of 60, mainly of course because most
households still are families at that time. But if there is a transition to this stage, as we see at
the end of the graphs for Italy and Portugal, the purchasing power even may go down.
One of the reasons for this different pattern may be the rather low birth rate of these countries.
The decrease in purchasing power for a family with just one child – permitting mothers to
participate on the labour market also better than with two children – is of course less than for
a bigger family. Another reason may be the difference between rural and urban regions. This
difference for instance in Austria explains the rather large number of extended families. It is
possible that the modern life course would emerge far more explicit if the focus was on urban
regions. If we take a look at the overall graph for Europe we see the same thing happening:
the differences for ages are quite small, thus masking the huge differences in the various
countries.

In sum, it is clear that in the majority of the European countries the process of family
formation runs through a somewhat different procedure as it used to do. For large numbers of
young people there is an extended transitional phase between the family of origin and their
own family to build. And this extended transitional phase carries some luxuries, such as a
relatively high purchasing power. And of course sexual freedom: though not a subject of this
study it is of course an undeniable fact that the things that used to depend on family formation
such as being an independent citizen, making your own money, having your own home (and
the social permission for sex) are no longer dependent on marriage let alone family formation.
In general young people (starting at the age of 16 going on sometimes till 35) have access to
at least a number of these issues without having to embark on the very strong social
commitment of parenthood. We see in the forerunner countries that the extension of this
transition phase is quite strong and this brings about new circumstances. Family formation is
transformed from a near social obligation into a quite personal decision between two people
already living together. And this is exactly the process studied in the qualitative trail.




                                                                                                 42
QUALITATIVE RESULTS

As stated in the fourth chapter, the basic assumption of the qualitative trail is that the modern
life course brings about a number of new problems in the process of family formation. First
and foremost it is a decision and not an automatic consequence of living together of couples.
The fact that it is a decision means that it has to be weighted against other issues, such as
educations and careers. But not only the educational and professional careers of women have
increased in length and importance, there is also a new kind of relational career. In modern
life course there is a possibility to test a relationship at a number of levels – up to cohabitation
– in order to check whether it will be „childproof‟. But this also means that more than was
ever the case, family formation is a partnership decision in which the male partner may have
more influence than ever.

       Negotiations

In the interviews evidence was found for this modernization process in various ways.
(Keeping in mind that this evidence is of a mere supportive nature due to the limited number
of interviews). First in all countries there still was a very general tendency that ultimately
family formation is a female decision. Women generally were the ones having the „lead‟ in
the process: they saw children as the best way to „complete their existence‟ and in order to
have a complete family you would have to have at least two children.31 Men acknowledged
this issue and saw themselves essentially as the supporters of these wishes in a number of
ways: lots of men also want children but those who are more reluctant tend to give way
because they know it is of paramount importance for the female partner. Inversely female
partners also attach a lot of importance to the (quality of) the relationship and therefore do not
want to push their partners too hard. Yet, concordant with the results of the original
interviews in the Partner Interaction project (see the introduction of chapter 4), most women
were well aware of the fact that they had a job to do in bringing their wish to reality in a
reasonable time. But instead of confronting their partners their policies usually were quite
gradual: „Constant dripping wears away the stone‟ as one of the interviewed put it.
This being the general pattern, there are however differences in the interaction process
between partner for the different countries. In traditional countries for instance such as Spain,
Ireland and also the United Kingdom the issue of childbirth still is treated as a „natural‟ issue.
Men and women acknowledge that women will give birth and followingly also will take care
of children. It is quite interesting that in these countries it is for a lot of couples an acceptable
solution that differences of opinion on having a(nother) child can be solved by nature by
„accidents‟ happening. This kind of solution for a difference of opinion is absolutely out of
the question for German and Austrian couples. In these countries there is a rather overt and
real negotiation process going on


From romantic idea to parental experience

Another issue in which there was great similarity between the countries was the difference
between (yet) childless couples and couples already having children. The first group may be
said indeed to have rather abstract – and sometimes downright romantic – views on life with
children. Parents on the contrary know already exactly what awaits them when they will have
another child and they discuss the huge chances of sleepless nights, giving up (even more)

31
       The fact that most women want two children is well documented in litterature (van Peer 2000)


                                                                                                      43
leisure activities and experiencing – for women – more and more incompatibility between
work and family life.
With respect to this latter issue there also was general agreement among parents: the
incompatibility is not only due to organisational issues such as the lack of childcare, the cost
of it or the differences in opening hours. The incompatibility also is caused by a quite
important psychological variable we may call „love’. A lot of mothers simply can‟t stand the
idea of being separated from their children for too long. And if necessary for reasons of
family income or their own conviction that they should do something with their education,
they still report a continuous nagging of the voices inside. This by the way is one of the
reasons a lot of parents give for using family – usually their own mother – to take over the
children. In Belgium quite a number of mothers expresses the opinion for instance that for
people without family parenthood is almost impossible, in Austria the urban mothers refer to
the huge difference with the countryside where family would be at hand for educational
assistance. Family does not only have the advantage of being rather cheap, but also of having
the feeling that there is somebody present that really cares for the child and gives it enough
attention.


       Men and Women|


The fact that women/mothers are the ones concerning them with this issue also is a quite clear
general tendency. The differences between men and women, fathers and mothers in the
„interaction issues‟ are quite traditional. Discussing parenthood men focus on the more
material issues, such as the money needed (for education for instance) whereas for women the
„quality of life‟ is the central issue. For mothers (to be) the crucial question is whether or not
everybody will be happy with the way things go. Of course the fact that this is the general
tendency does not mean that these roles are rigid. There is of course always an overlap
between the immaterial and the material issues: who wants to spend time with a child also
needs money. The issue of concern most couples have in common is the importance of
housing, indeed a combination of financial possibilities and living conditions. A lot of couples
clearly state that for them the coming of a next child depends on adequate housing and in
countries where housing is expensive (such as Spain or in urban areas of Austria) it is a very
often lamented issue.

       Money

With respect to the issue of finance again there are a number of differences between countries,
also in the male/female pattern. In Germany and Austria for instance women tend to be far
more concerned with the financial situation than in other countries. This may be an effect of
the composition of the sample (a lot of highly educated women) but it seems also to be an
effect of a more general difference in the relations between partners in these middle European
countries. They seem to hold the middle between the traditional parts of Europe such as
Spain, Ireland and also the United Kingdom and Belgium on the one hand and the modern
countries Sweden and the Netherlands on the other hand. To summarize this difference: in all
countries women are the main childcarers, in the modern countries men acknowledge that
they should do more , in the traditional countries men do not acknowledge that they should do
more and women accept it, in the middle countries men do not acknowledge that they should
do more and women do not accept this. This gives the interviews in Germany and Austria
often somewhat of an uneasiness. Austria is in fact the only country in which men – at least in


                                                                                               44
the interviewed sample – in general were as in favour of getting children as women….but
women were less enthousiastic. Not because they did not like or want children, but because
they feared that it would have to big an impact on their own lives and that they would be stuck
with the children seeing their partner getting more and more involved in a career.


       Inadequate social support systems

With perhaps the exemption of Sweden parents in all countries held the opinion that the
support systems for parenthood were poor or inadequate compared to their problems. (That of
course explained the fear of women to be „stuck‟, when their partner doesn‟t help out.)
Complaints about the height of the child allowances, the availability and cost of child care and
the lack of parental leave were manifold. This of course is where the differences in the
welfare regimes of the countries involved comes in. In the Anglosaxon and Southern
countries it simply was clear for parents that the state would do almost nothing so they would
have to take care of themselves. In the Scandinavian and Continental countries the support
systems were well known and there clearly was social planning in those countries where good
systems were available. Especially the parental leave systems in Germany and Sweden (and
for a part also Austria) led to real decision making based on social circumstances. In Germany
for instance a number of women postponed the child until they had a steady job so they would
get paid parental leave. And in Sweden almost half of the couples interviewed stated that the
timing of the second child had been within the three year period in which they could stay at
home from their jobs and retain a good percentage of their salaries. This situation seemed to
be for a large part responsible for the rather relaxed attitude in Sweden on the negotiation
process. In general women would know they would do most of the job but they considered
themselves to be temporally absent from their jobs and other social issues. Further it was
striking how much emphasis in the Swedish sample was put on the (effect of) the social
environment. Most couples reported to have a circle of families and friends in which a certain
number of children was common („we are the last, everybody else already has two) and they
simply did „go with the flow‟.

       Familism and third children

Next to the Swedish women, Irish and Belgian women seemed to have the least problems in
having it their way in family formation. In Belgium both motherhood and female labour
participation are considered as normal, in Ireland there is a strong sense of familism making it
easy for women to have also their third child. In all countries a second child is seen as
„logical‟ or „natural‟, mainly because it would be better for the first child to have a sibling.
Most parents hold the opinion that the sooner the second child comes the better, because of
this sibling relationship. Since on the other hand the parents – especially the mother – need
time to recover and two baby‟s in diapers would be a problem, the second child usually is
born within two to three years from the first. Some parents prefer however a bigger distance:
they argue that they should spend maximum time with a child and therefore a second one
should wait until the first one is more independent (over six years of age for instance). The
common denominator in the issue of getting a second child however is that there is hardly any
disagreement between the parents. Getting a third child however brings back the male/female
differences that were present in deciding for the first one: if there is disagreement usually men
point to the loss of freedom and the material consequences, women see it as a social and/or




                                                                                              45
psychological enrichment32 (they again are the ones mostly in favour of another kind). Since
there are already children however in the case of a third child the „blocking position‟ of men
is much stronger than in the case of the first child. As stated above, with the exemption of
Ireland where „familism‟ is quite strong 33a third child in most countries is seen as a transfer
to a big family, in Ireland this debate seems to start one child later.

         Three types of interaction

In sum, the interaction between partners on the issue of parenthood has a lot of dimensions.
Both partners start from a personal perspective that may be the same or may differ. In the
communication with their partners they of course have to take these differences into account
and that is where the issue of the relationship comes in. It is an overarching concern that the
decision for parenthood should be a joint decision. Not only because people want to have a
good relationship with their partner but also because they feel a child should be born into a
good psychological environment (and being „unwished‟ certainly is not seen as desirable).
In general the first „barrier‟ for a child to be born is this agreement between partners on the
issue of childbirth itself and on the timing of the child. It is clear that in most couples the
woman leads the way and that the man has a bit of a postponing effect. But of course there are
also lots of couples in which men are equally or sometimes even more in favour.
External circumstances seem to be mediated by this internal procedures. In couples with a
joint familistic attitude – putting parenthood as first goal in life – external circumstances are
not very influential. This kind of couples uses arguments such as „we will spend the money
anyway‟ or „where there is room for four, there is for five‟. In couples with differences of
opinion on the other hand external circumstances are used as arguments to tip the balance for
or against a child or for or against the timing of the child. Since men hesitate the most,
especially with respect to the timing of the first child and since they rely heavily on the more
material arguments, it stands to reason that „negative circumstances‟ find their way into the
partner debate through them. Especially the issue of housing is of paramount importance,
since the housing issue also has strong impact on the factor women find of importance, the
creation of a „good environment‟.
In highly educated couples another external element enters the debate: the consequences of
motherhood for the possibilities of women to have a career or to work on their personal
development. Since most women realize quite well that their male partner will not be of
substantial assistance in this issue for them the „caring support systems‟ are of paramount
importance. Since these systems often are not adequate and/or very expensive, this situation
produces couples in which males are more in favour of having children than females (or: to
have children sooner). In this situation women also often mention the time pressure: they fear
not to be able to become mother (again) if they wait too long.
Though of course the number of interviews is far too small to give decisive information, we
seem to be able to distinguish between three main „interaction trails‟ with respect to family
formation.
The first trail is the (nonproblematic) familistic trail in which both partners think children are
of paramount importance for their own happiness and inversely are willing to invest a lot of
their own resources into the happiness of children. This situation leads of course to the
quickest and the biggest families.

32
         The absolutely best characterization of this difference was given by a woman in the UK. She stated that
„for men time with children is not their own time, for women it is‟.
33
         In general there can be made a distinction between a familistic attitude in which children are seen as the
greatest possible thing and an attitude in which children are „weighted‟ against other issues such as career or
leisure.


                                                                                                                46
The second trail is the middle-of-the-road situation in which men and women have traditional
opinions on each other‟s roles and men tend to take a delaying or even blocking (for third and
following children) position. In this trail women report to be the main driving force, using
various techniques to get it their way without putting the relation in too much danger. Men
acknowledge this procedure as being logical and/or natural and tend to give way. But there is
a distinct effect of postponement that gets stronger the moment the circumstances get worse.
Of course there are huge differences between couples within this trail in the extent to which
partners are in favour of children and in the extent to which they value such things as money
or childcare, but this seems to be the general pattern)
The third trail is the modernization trail in which traditional schemes are abandoned. In this
trail the interaction on family formation is clearly more explicit than in the two other trails.
Also in this type of interaction women are more concerned on traditional male issues such as
money, because they know it will have a strong impact on their abilities to combine
motherhood with other roles in society. It stands to reason that this trail is prevalent among
more highly educated couples.
Of course these trails are no more than ideal types. In reality there are a lot of other factors
that may intersect with these trails. The medical issue for instance plays an important role
when it comes to delay or even abstinence of further children: quite a few couples report that
they would have wanted another child but that the risks were too high.


Finally: What if we try to ‘add up’ the effects of these trails and link them to the results of the
research into the modern life course?

Adding up the effects gives a clear sense of direction the results of the partner interaction
processes will follow and that is in the direction of less children. With the exemption of the
familistic trail we see delay in all other ones. Interestingly, the delay is not only linked to the
emancipation issue. We should take into account also that the modernization trail is linked to
the smallest group of couples in society, couples with higher educations. (And even in this
group we still find a lot of couples fitting better into the other types of interaction). But it is
clear that the delay factors are strongest in this type of interaction: that strong that a number of
males even think it takes too long and fear that they will not become fathers.
The probably by far largest – therefore called middle-of-the-road-couples – group however
seems to be clearly on a postponement pattern. This pattern is perhaps not very strong and
since it is mainly the result of hesitation of men it can be overruled, so there is more delay
than real abstinence, but there may be a distinct overall effect. It is clear that the later family
formation starts, the stronger the chances will be of not getting to the desired number of
children (for women), if only for the increased risk of medical problems. But a lot of women
also report that they would‟nt get a third child that close to forty for instance. The effect of
men clearly becomes stronger on births later on in the row. If the results of this study would
hold for the entire population, it is clear that a lot of third children for instance are wished by
women but not born, let alone fourth children.
In sum, the process of emancipation seems to have an unexpected side-effect. Since
parenthood in modernized couples has to be a joint decision, the male influence becomes
stronger. And this influence has a general postponing effect. So the effect of the delay for
highly educated women not wanting to give up career or personal development is reinforced
by the effect of male partners who have exactly the same reasons. In general men realize quite
well – certainly after two children – what the effect will be on their position, even if women
are taking most of the burden in practice. And that is why we seem to have arrived in a



                                                                                                 47
situation in which women get less children than they really would like to have, surely an
effect not foreseen in the struggle for the availability of anticonception.

        Effects of life course changes: further delay?

As for the interplay between the internal and external procedures, what will be the effect of
the changes in the lifecourse documented in chapter 3? Of course for an interpretation we will
have to take into account the differences between the countries, especially between the north
and the south. And we will have to take into account the differences in the welfare and family
support systems. First however with respect to the general effect of the modernization of the
lifecourse we think it will contribute to further delay. And this for a number of reasons. One
of the crucial aspects of the modern lifecourse is the „increased shifting of household
position‟: leaving the parental home is no longer associated with family formation but with a
period of living alone or as a childless couple. The decision to build a family is made within
this couple and depends on mutual agreement. Without this agreement there will be no
family…or the relationship will be discontinued34. But this takes time. Further, the increasing
gap in material conditions between couples with and without children is making the transition
to parenthood more difficult. It is clear that especially the male partner will focus heavily on
the loss of purchasing power that will be the effect: there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever
that young couples know that children will cost a lot of time and money.
Of course we should take into account that all these issues have a relative effect on the life
course decisions people take. And that there are huge differences in the general levels of
provisions in different countries. In Sweden for instance the parental leave systems take away
a lot of the concerns of women. And in Denmark and France the average level of consumption
of parents is much higher than in the southern countries, so the transition is smaller. And in a
familistic country such as Ireland a lot of material and emancipation arguments are simply
overruled by the general pro child attitude so their effect is lower. Therefore it seems to be the
continental pattern in which the modernization of the life course may have the strongest
effect on childbirth. In Germany and Austria for instanced we see a typical mix of a social
support system being unable to bridge the gap at the moment of transition. Since in these
countries the cultural conditions are also changing at a lower pace than in for instance
Sweden, the situation seems to become quite „tight‟. People – especially in Austria – seems to
feel more and more caught between two evils: the decision to have children will have negative
effects on their living (and perhaps therefore also) relational conditions…but the decision not
to have children is even worse. In the Netherlands, the country with the highest gap between
parents and nonparents, the average age for the birth of a first child has gone up to almost 30
and highly educated women now have a percentage of childlessness going to 25 percent35. In
Sweden – but this will also go for Norway – the excellent system for parental support
(especially parental leave) seems to reconcile these problems and indeed the birthrate in
Scandinavia is high and there is hardly any difference in timing and number of children
between lower and higher educated women.


34
          With a view to the strong childwish of most women, we should not underestimate this effect. A study of
the Netherlands Family Council and the Central Statistics Office (Garssen e.a. 2001) showed that the dissolution
rate for couples not getting children was almost 80 percent (married or unmarried), whereas couples with
children stayed together for the next 20 years in 85 percent of the cases (dissolution rate of 15 percent only).
35
   . The difference between the German speaking countries and the Dutch/Flemish area seems to be that in the
former the debate on children between partners is far more overt. We may speculate this to be an effect of the
difference between the catholic and protestant religion, the latter laying more emphasis on personal decisions,
but this is mere speculation (the sample in the Netherlands was more in the southern area);



                                                                                                             48
As for the southern countries the issue of the modernization of the lifecourse does not seem to
be of huge importance yet. The interviews in Spain show that the decisions on family
formation are heavily influenced by issues such as job security, hight of income and very
much the availability of housing. Nevertheless it would be interesting to make a regional
analysis in these countries: the modern pattern may very well apply to the urbanized areas
around Milan, Rome, Barcelona and Madrid. But this brings us to the inevitable moment that
we will have to dwell on the shortcomings of this project and the need for further research.


       Things we would like to know.

It is clear that the analysis of the modern lifecourse pattern now is limited to the macrolevel.
In order to link the results to the findings on the issue of partner interaction we would need to
go into the specifics of the countries in more detail. One of which would certainly be the
differences between urban and regional areas (this difference was also very clear in the
interviewing results). Further of course we should not forget that the analysis of the lifecourse
with the available date really is not a longitudinal but a crossectional one. In fact we compare
data of actual groups of respondents of different ages, we do not follow them really in their
lifecourse. The limited number of the respondents in the ECHP however prevents to do this at
a sufficient level of reliability and validity. To summarize this issue: we can be fairly sure
about the general pattern, but the result may differ greatly for subgroups.
With respect to both the indicators and the interviews we will have to take into account that
the first goal of this project was a methodological one. We did test the methods developed for
the Netherlands and Flanders at the international comparative level. The conclusion is that
both the qualitative and quantitative methods are applicable and that they certainly are usefull
to develop new ways of conceptualising the interplay between partners and their social
environment. The number of interviews (210 in sum for eight countries/regions) is far too
small for representativity and the results will have to be translated into surveys for
representative samples.


       Things we think we know already.

Nevertheless we think that the similarity in general tendencies is a strong support for a
number of hypotheses. First we think that it is safe to say that the interaction between partners
on the issue of family formation has a number of common characteristics for all countries
involved. For instance: women lead the way and men follow with some hesitation, hesitation
that may increase in unfavourable external circumstances. And also: in modernized couples
there is a strong increase in negotiation processes with both partners hesitating from different
perspectives. In sum: partner interaction is one of the forces bringing about postponement
and even abstinence, both in a direct and indirect (too late, medical problems) way. And since
partner interaction is increasing in weight in a modernizing society, we think there are good
grounds to assume that the main influence on family formation will be in the negative
direction. To avoid misunderstandings: the vast majority of women but also absolutely does
want to have (two) children. But the forces working for postponement and less children at
work are clearly of more influence than the forces working for more and sooner children.
Moreover, another general conclusion we would support is that these interactions take place
in a rather „negative social environment‟. This conclusion stems both from the qualitative and
quantitative trail. With the exemption of Sweden the vast majority of the parents (to be) felt
that social support for parenthood and the combination of family and work was inadequate.


                                                                                               49
And the analysis of the emerging modern lifecourse clearly demonstrates that at least the
purchasing power of parents is under strain. Perhaps the issue at stake is not so much their
own purchasing power, but the big differences with the childless phases. To put it simple: the
transition to parenthood is being more and more a dive from a relatively good situation with
lots of time and money (young couples) to a situation with a lot of work and far less money.

In the end, the decision to have children is a joint decision of two people to take the dive
together, a dive both symbolic and quite real. They dive into the unexpected because they
don‟t really know what life with children really will bring…and they dive into a situation with
a lot more ends to meet and a lot less means to meet these ends. The good thing about it is
that they do this with their eyes wide open and (more and more) fully conscious of the
consequences for both of them. As a result of this knowledge however growing numbers of
couples need quite a long approach to the pool and still look twice at each other before they
do this joint diving. For most of them fortunately the swim is a great experience, great enough
to do at least one other dive together. Yet the image of the modern family formation process
also seems to be more and more a swimming pool with a lot of women on the side stretching
out their hand to males still lying in their seats enjoying the sun and their drink a bit longer
before they get wet. And – to continue the metaphor – at this moment the external conditions
weigh heavily on the pace of leaving the chair and coming towards the pool. If the water is
very cold, if you know your drink will be gone and your seat taken, if there are no towels
available….all this kind of circumstances may and will be of influence. For each individual
couple the decision will be dependent mainly on their desire to swim together, for the group
as a whole however all negative circumstances will contribute to delay or staying put, not
taking the next dive. The extent to which for instance the distribution of extra towels would
increase the number of dives will be difficult to assess and be dependent on a number of
country-specific variables (material and cultural). But since we know that there is a very
strong force in action in favour of diving – the bulk of the women at the side of the pool – we
might take a chance in doing so. Because there is a real difference with respect to procreation
compared to some decades ago. There is no doubt it still mainly is a female issue but the issue
used to be that women wanted to reduce their number of children against a lot of social
pressure from the outside to get them. At present a lot of women face exactly the inverse
problem: they have to carry their wish to have a(nother) child past a couple of barriers in their
environment. They often have to convince themselves that they make the right decision in
risking their own societal contacts or careers. They have to convince partners that the family
experience will be worth wile to abandon some societal riches. And they have to do so in a
rather ambivalent environment that wants them to do very different things at the same time:
such as participate in the labour market of today and at the same time get children to
participate in the labour market of tomorrow. But this project in our opinion does provide
some evidence that the „social indicators‟ for the next generation are not that positive, not in
the subjective perception of the women themselves, not in the objective measurement of the
position of parents in the modern life course.




                                                                                              50
SUMMARY

European women are giving birth later and lesser: the general birth rate has gone down well
below the replacement level and the average age of first motherhood has been rising steadily
in the past years.

This change may be explained by the emancipation process: women gained control over
contraceptives, got access to schooling and increased their labour participation. Due to lack of
provisions for the combination of motherhood and work they have to choose and this of
course may have a negative effect on birth rates. Another assumption is linked to the idea of
increasing individualism and consumerism: younger people generally want to enjoy their
freedom and maintain their consumption levels as double-income-no-kid couples.

        Theoretical background: life course and family dynamics.
In this project the issue of family formation was studied from the perspective of the life
course, with an additional focus on family dynamics. It is generally assumed that
emancipation and individualisation have increased the freedom of choice for individuals, but
we assume that new situations also bring about new limitations. One of the effects of the
modernization process in a number of forerunner countries for instance has been that the
number of „life transitions‟ people pass through increased. Instead of changing the parental
home directly for marriage and family formation we see a number of options such as living
single or as a couple (often unmarried) for a certain period. The decision to become parents
does not only come after these stages but is also dependent on their success: after a broken
cohabitation it takes time to find another partner who – from the perspective of women – is
suitable for fatherhood. And of course… willing to be a father: another new element in the
family formation process may be that fathers become more important, especially when they
are expected to join in childcare.

Up till now there is very little known on such issues as life course transitions with respect to
their effects on family formation. The same goes for the interaction between partners
concerning the decision for parenthood. We assume however that this is an important variable
because it can „mediate‟ the way external influences work on family formation decisions. In
modern couples with – at least intended – equal decision power we assume that there will be
negotiations in which these circumstances are used as arguments. Therefore having a partner
with a very „materialistic attitude‟ will make difference in situations where child support is
very low. Or vice versa partners wanting to have children very much may be expected to
override possible external unfavourable circumstances.

        Aim of the project: instruments.
The issue at stake here of course is whether or not there is a general tendency in these life
course changes and in the interaction patterns sketched above. The aim of this project was to
develop international comparative instruments or even indicators for these two issues. The
instruments tested were developed in a previous study in the Netherlands and Flanders.
First we developed a number of „life course indicators‟ depicting the transition patterns with
respect to households, including the effects of these transitions on the purchasing power of
individuals and families. These instrument used to develop these indicators was a secondary
analysis on the European Community Household Panel (ECHP).
Second we interviewed over 200 couples in eight countries of the European Union. The
instrument used was the „interaction/confrontation interview. This interview procedure entails
that both partners of a couple first are interviewed and tested individually, directly followed


                                                                                             51
by a joint interview in which the interviewer has the possibility of confronting them with
differences in their opinions that became apparent in the individual interviews. The focus of
the interaction interview is on the decision to have (another) child, more specific on the
interactions that produced the decision.

         New stages in the lifecourse.
For the construction of the „family indicators‟ the data in the ECHP were recoded to be able to
construct household categories indicative for changes in the family life cycle. The main
criteria are partnership and parenthood (not marriage), leading to the following six categories:
- children living with their parents                                child
- parents living with partner and their children                    nuclear family
- parents living with partner, children and other family members extended family
- parents living with their children without partner                single parent
- persons living single                                             single
- persons living with a partner                                     couple
- all other households                                              others




         Households Europe 1996                                                Persons
                                                                               living:




                                                                                  with parents

                                                                                  with family and
                                                                                  others
                                                                                  with others

                                                                                  alone

                                                                                  with partner

                                                                                  with partner
                                                                                  and child(ren)
                                                                                  with child(ren)


     0        10        20       30         40       50        60        70
                                      age




                                                                                                52
In order to get a view on the developments in the life course we compared the household
positions for age. In the graph above the results of this household indicator are shown for
Europe as a whole. It is clear tyat the type of household someone lives in is strongly related to
his or her age. Young Europeans will live in a family with their parents or – the dark purple
area – in an extended family type with parents and grandparents or other relatives. After the
age of 20 gradually other living arrangements emerge and for a short period tend to dominate
the lifecourse: the green area for people living single and the blue area for people living with
their partner. At the age of 30 however we see that the vast majority of the population has
shifted to the position of parent. At the bottom of the purple area the light purple colour shows
the number of single parent families. In the next stage of the lifecycle we see children
gradually leave the parental home, reducing the household (again) to a partnership and later
on to single persons. For lack of data on the elderly in the ECHP the figure stops at the age of
70 but it is clear of course that the green area will be dominating the later ages.

For separate countries of course the situations may differ. The following graphs give two
„typical‟ patterns distinghuishing between the North and the South of Europe.

               Note: all graphs are available for all countries in the complete report.

                                                             Life Phases Spain vg                      Persons
                                                                                                       living:

                                                                                                         with parents

                                                                                                         with family and
                                                                                                         others
                                                                                                         with others

                                                                                                         alone

                                                                                                         with partner

                                                                                                         with partner
                                                                                                         and child(ren)
                                                                                                         with child(ren)
                                                         0    10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                                                                             age




The first difference attracting attention of course is the absence of the three-generation-
household in Denmark, whereas in Spain we see a strong purple belt across all ages. Further
in Denmark at the age of 55 there is hardly a family with children left, whereas in Spain at the
age of 60 families still build the majority of the population and couples and – mainly – singles
only gradually emerge. Denmark stands for the „modern pattern‟ in which two new phases are
gradually emerging before and after the family period (which itself is shortened). In these new
phases people live as single or(mainly) as a couple before and after family formation. In the
central life phase the family still dominates but in the modernized countries the later stages
are dominated by childless households. There is a clear division in Europe between northern
and southern countries with respect to this issue: Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal still have
the traditional pattern, Austria is in an intermediate position (a lot of couples at later ages but
also still a lot of extended families).



                                                                                                          53
       Income during the lifecycle.
The next step in the analysis was the comparison of the economic situation of the different
types of households. We concentrated on the three „main types‟: singles, couples and nuclear
families. To compare their economic situation we used the standardized purchasing power.
This variable uses all income sources (including redistributions and tax effects) and allows for
a correction on the number and age of family members. Further it allows to attribute a
purchasing power to all family members since the purchasing power for an individual is
derived from the family situation.



                        Income Curves 3 Household Types vg                                           Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                      France                                                                    Netherlands
 median standarized




                                                                             median standarized
                      25000                                                                       25000
                      20000                                                                       20000
      income




                                                   w ith partner                                                                 with partner


                                                                                  income
                      15000                                                                       15000
                                                   w ith partner and child                                                       with partner and child
                      10000                        alone                                          10000                          alone
                       5000                                                                       5000
                         0                                                                           0
                              28   38    48   58                                                          28   38     48   58
                                   age                                                                          age




In the graph above the two „extremes‟ of the analysis are shown. In the Netherlands there is a
huge difference between the types with especially the couples having a very high purchasing
power. In France they are more close together. A comparison of all EU-countries showed that
with respect to this variable there was no general European pattern. In Denmark for instance
the difference between the household types was very small (with Greece and France the
smallest), in Spain, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands the differences were big.
Nevertheless it should be noticed that in all countries the purchasing power of families was
lower than of the other two types. Speculations on the causes for this general pattern and the
country differences may involve:
    - the simple fact that children cost money
    - the fact that mothers tend to decrease their labour participation
    - the differences between countries in the way they support children financially.

Seen from the perspective of the life course however these comparisons have one major flaw:
certain types of household dominate certain parts of the life cycle. The graph for families at
age 45 for instance represents the average of 80 percent or more of the population, but at the
age of 60 in some countries just a small minority of the households. If we want to know
something about the transitions then we have to combine the income data with our knowledge
on households. In the following graph therefore we present the (median) standardized income
of the dominant household type for Germany and the Netherlands.
 There is a striking similarity in these countries with respect to the family phase: the income is
a lot lower than before and after. Young parents in these countries clearly face a substantial
decrease in purchasing power compared to the period before.




                                                                                                                                                          54
                                    Life Phase Income Curve                                                                                        Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                    W3 VG German                                                                                                             Netherlands
    20000                                      y                                                                                    20000
Sta




                                                                                                             S tandardized income
nd                                                                          with parents
                                                                                                                                                                                              with parents
ard                                                                         transition
    15000                                                                                                                           15000                                                     transition
ize
d                                                                           with partner
                                                                                                                                                                                              with partner
inc                                                                         with partner and child
om 10000                                                                                                                            10000                                                     with partner and child
                                                                            alone
e                                                                                                                                                                                             alone

                          5000                                                                                                       5000
                                    0    10    20    30    40   50   60                                                                        0     10    20    30        40    50    60
                                                     Age                                                                                                             Age




Next we see the southern pattern. In Italy and Spain there is a very small difference at the
moment of transition, in Portugal no difference. In these countries we see overall stability
with respect to the incomes over the life course. (To be noted: these incomes do not include
the incomes of extended families, they are not dominant in any stage. But in general these
incomes do not differ greatly from nuclear families).

                                    Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG                                                                                  Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                  Italy                                                                                                        Portugal
                        20000                                                                                               20000
 S tandardized income




                                                                                                     S tandardized income




                                                                          with parents                                                                                                      with parents
                                                                                                                            15000
                        15000                                             transition                                                                                                        transition
                                                                          with partner                                                                                                      with partner
                                                                                                                            10000
                                                                          with partner and child                                                                                            with partner and child
                        10000
                                                                          alone                                                     5000                                                    alone


                         5000                                                                                                          0
                                0       10    20    30    40    50   60                                                                    0        10    20    30     40       50    60
                                                    Age                                                                                                         Age




 What does this mean? We should bear in mind that this method only allows a comparison at a
very general level: it concerns the median incomes of the dominant household types. These
data may conceal very big differences for different groups of people within countries. It is
highly probable for instance that the urban population of the big cities in southern countries
shows a pattern much more similar to Denmark or the Netherlands: we know that it is part of
the general modernization process that people do not marry out of the parental home but live
as a single or (often cohabitating) couple and it is exactly this pattern that „produces‟ the
rollercoaster income effect we see in the northern countries. Looking at the end of the
rollercoaster, the most striking issue in the northern countries of course is the vast increase in
purchasing power after the age of 55, a pattern that is completely absent in the southern
countries.
There seems to be a growing imbalance between life phases as a result of the modernization
process. The shortening of the life phase as a family (with children) in a number of countries
leads to phases before and after that have an „extreme potential‟. The logical consequence is
that living in a family gives a worse position with respect to consumption possibilities. It
should be stressed however that it is not the position of families that is worsening: families
seem to have a rather stable overall average consumption power that is even quite similar in
northern and southern countries (with some exemptions such as Luxemburg). One might
expect this gap to widen in the future: the postponement of the first child creates a longer
period before the family phase, the good health of the older people will create a very long
phase dominated by couples…and in the near future these people will increasingly be the
rather well-to-do baby boomers.


                                        Interaction between partners: the interviews.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                       55
Though the main aim of the study was to test the instrument for international use, the sample
of over 200 allows for some general conclusions on the interaction and decision process
between partners on the issue of family formation. First with respect to the method: it worked
quite well to interview both partners together after an individual interview. Since the topic
was already discussed the joint interviews were fast to focus on the central issue and there
was quite a lot of mutual correction between the partners. (In a previous testing phase in the
Netherlands the interview procedure proved to be far more valid than a survey). Further the
respondents generally were quite happy to discuss this matter. It had been feared to be „too
sensitive‟, especially when a confrontation technique would be used, but in fact it worked the
opposite way. One of the main (unexpected) findings was that even in modern highly
educated couples the discussion on family formation was rather „implicit‟. A lot of partners
took pleasure in the occasion to have a number of issues officially and overtly on the table.
With the exemption of a few cases this did not lead too great tensions: being a sensitive issue
partners knew enough about each other too be able to handle the situation. The fact that
women in general both are interested more in children and are more sensitive to the feelings
of their partner than vice versa, may have contributed to this effect.
Most of the partners were highly educated and urban, but a large part also was rural and less
educated. Further there was a roughly equal division of single and dual earner couples and a
rather even distribution of couples without, with one, two and more children. All interviews
were conducted in the native language, fully transcribed and translated in English. Coding
took place on three levels: national, international and in a reconciliation procedure for
differences. Since the research is mainly methodological and with respect to the content at
best exploratory the results will be presented only in very broad generalizations, that is only
these issues will be reported that were very clearly present in all countries. (For a description
of the specific country results we refer to the report, in this summary only some issues
relevant for groups of countries will be discussed).

        Family formation decisions as a negotiation procedure.
First and foremost it is clear that the interaction between partners is a very important and
influential issue. Since the decision to become parents is seen by both as a very major life-
issue that also may have a backlash on the relation itself partners are very well aware of the
position of their partner. The general tendency is to attach a lot of value to the (quality of) the
relationship, first for its own sake of course, but also for the sake of a child to be born. In
general parents (to be) think it very undesirable that a child is born that is not wished for by
one of the parents. So, the decision to become parents essentially is a joint decision of two
people…and this may take some time.

        Women start, lead….and decide.
Motherhood comes before fatherhood. The vast majority of the couples reported that the
woman had been the first one to want children and express it. This does not mean that men are
in general opposed to children: most men clearly state that they want to become fathers, but
their „salience‟ simply is less. Couples attribute this difference to nature in two ways: first
they generally agree that for woman children are far more of a „life achievement goal‟ and
further it is a fact of nature that woman cannot wait as long as men to get them. Especially in
highly educated couples the issue of age is quite prominent for the logical reasons that women
complete first their education.
Women also lead the interaction because of this, but this does not take place in a very „overt‟
way. Most women report a rather implicit way of checking and testing the child wish of their
partners: “ it is like fishing: giving them the bait and hope they will bite” is absolutely the best
quote on this issue. In some countries, Austria and Germany, the debate seemed to be rather


                                                                                                 56
more explicit. The samples in these countries were rather highly educated and showed (as an
exemption to the general rule) some men wanting to have children with women quite reluctant
to become mothers for fear of giving up their educational or career position.
Women also tend to cast the decisive vote, both with respect to the birth and with respect to
the timing of it. Most men clearly state that they would not want (or even dare) to oppose such
a strong wish of their partner. With respect to this issue there was a difference between more
modern (Netherlands, Germany) and more traditional countries (Spain and Ireland): in the
latter there was quite a lot of referring to the way women „could get it when they wanted it‟.
The „accident‟ was seen by these partners seemingly as not the worst way to solve a potential
conflict: men that had problems with the actual decision to have another child would not
oppose when it happened to come. This attitude was absolutely rejected in the northern
countries, where women stated that it would in their opinion be absolutely disastrous for the
relationship and family life if they played this kind of tricks.
In sum however it is very clear that women are the driving force behind family formation:
they usually report to have a child wish at quite an early age, they usually want to have their
child sooner as their partner, they usually want more children than their partners…..and they
usually seem to get or to have got it their way.

        Men follow, support, give way, apply the brake….and sometimes block
 The position of men logically in general is complementary to the position of women. They
seldom lead, mostly follow. But a substantial number of them also taking „ braking‟ or even
blocking positions. That is they are the ones that have a number of objections to have
a(nother) child or to have it right now. Some men state this clear and simple but this
absolutely is a minority. The average position is being mildly in doubt, certainly not against
the idea but merely „being a bit more rational about it‟.
To understand this issue it is important to focus on another conclusion that may be drawn, the
gender difference between men and women discussing parenthood. Men have a clear
tendency to focus on the more material issues, such as the financial consequences, the future
issues such as expensive education etc. Women focus on quality of life issues, such as having
enough time for both child and partner. Of course in many situations there is an overlap. The
issue of housing for instance in a lot of interviews is of paramount importance because in this
issue the material and immaterial issues come together: houses provide the space necessary
but are a major financial issue. Further of course a number of women – especially in the
highly educated Austrian sample – also focus on the financial issue. But in general there
really is a different approach to the problem. Since women usually are in favour, men use the
material issues as impediments but in a lot of interviews they also express the fear that the
impact of a(nother) child on their own life will be quite serious. Especially when there are
already children they know what it takes. And though again a lot of men really state to like
being a father, the majority comes rather close to the state of mind beautifully formulated by a
mother in the UK: „for me the time a child costs is something of my own, for you it is time
you loose‟.
But of course finance in itself may be quite a strong argument: a number of couples made
statements indicating that winning the lottery would at least produce three more children.

First, second and third children
Once again, most men also want children so the debate on the first child – if there is any – is
usually is more about the timing. In fact most childless couples have rather a romantic idea
about parenthood, most couples already having children confirm indeed that they hadn‟t had a
clue what would be coming.



                                                                                             57
Second children are a rather universal wish of both men and women, so they are seldom
discussed. Most couples litteraly state that they are born „for the sake of the first one‟. Single
child families are seen as incomplete, children need siblings to interact with for fun and
learning to be social. The only debate on the issue of a second child is whether to have it as
soon as possible (the majority) or to have it later so that there is plenty of time for it. In this
kind of debates it is quite clear that for most parents the interest of the child is a very strong
matter to consider. Issues of timing do not focus on the consequences of their own
consumption, but on the issue whether the child will be born into a good environment.
For third and following children the situation is somewhat different. Since the couple already
has children the „salience‟ of the women wanting another child is in most cases somewhat less
and in this situation possible counter-arguments of men have a stronger weight. Usually is is
argued that the step from two to three children will bring the need of bigger housing, cars etc.
A very important argument is also that childcare is already difficult enough with two children.
In the end it is clear that the postponing and blocking power of men is much stronger with
third and following children.

        External circumstances : personal network and social planning.
The more both parents to be (or one of them) hesitate, the more importance of course the
external conditions will get. That is, there is clear evidence that external conditions are
mediated by the interaction between partners. There are two types of external conditions,
personal and nonpersonal.
Nonpersonal conditions mainly are the „social provisions‟: how easy is it to get a good house,
how high is the child allowance, is there parental leave, childcare facilities etc. In general
there is in all countries – with the exemption of Sweden –a lot of complaining on all of these.
Parents feel they have to carry the bulk of the load for themselves. That is also why the
personal external conditions are so important with as main issue the provision of childcare by
ones family. Or to be more precise: by the mother‟s mother. But also in general the personal
social network is often mentioned for all kinds of support, also psychological. Very often
parents report that good experiences in their family of origin or with children of friends had
been an important stimulus to have children of their own.
There is one issue that deserves separate attention and that is what we may call the „social
planning‟ of children. In countries with a good parental leave system, Germany but especially
Sweden, couples report that the option of extension of (paid) parental leave is a major
stimulus to get the second child close to the first one.

        In sum: three types of interaction.
Though of course the number of interviews is far too small to give decisive information, we
seem to be able to distinguish between three main „interaction trails‟ with respect to family
formation.
The first trail is the (nonproblematic) „familistic‟ trail in which both partners think children
are of paramount importance for their own happiness and inversely are willing to invest a lot
of their own resources into the happiness of children. This situation leads of course to the
quickest and the biggest families.
The second trail is the middle-of-the-road situation in which men and women have traditional
opinions on each other‟s roles and men tend to take a delaying or even blocking (for third and
following children) position. In this trail women report to be the main driving force, using
various techniques to get it their way without putting the relation in too much danger. Men
acknowledge this procedure as being logical and/or natural and tend to give way. But there is
a distinct effect of postponement that gets stronger the moment the circumstances get worse.
Of course there are huge differences between couples within this trail in the extent to which


                                                                                                58
partners are in favour of children and in the extent to which they value such things as money
or childcare, but this seems to be the general pattern)
The third trail is the modernization trail in which traditional schemes are abandoned. In this
trail the interaction on family formation is clearly more explicit than in the two other trails.
Also in this type of interaction women are more concerned on traditional male issues such as
money, because they know it will have a strong impact on their abilities to combine
motherhood with other roles in society. It stands to reason that this trail is prevalent among
more highly educated couples.

Finally: What if we try to ‘add up’ the effects of these trails and link them to the results of the
research into the modern life course?

Adding up the effects gives sense of direction the results of the partner interaction processes
will follow and that is in the direction of less children. With the exemption of the familistic
trail we see delay in all other ones. Interestingly, the delay is not only linked to the
emancipation issue. The probably by far largest – therefore called middle-of-the-road-couples
– group however seems to be clearly on a postponement pattern. This pattern is perhaps not
very strong and since it is mainly the result of hesitation of men it can be overruled, so there is
more delay than real abstinence, but there may be a distinct overall effect. It is clear that the
later family formation starts, the stronger the chances will be of not getting to the desired
number of children (for women), if only for the increased risk of medical problems. But a lot
of women also report that they would‟nt get a third child that close to forty for instance. The
effect of men clearly becomes stronger on births later on in the row. If the results of this study
would hold for the entire population, it is clear that a lot of third children for instance are
wished by women but not born, let alone fourth children.
In sum, the process of emancipation seems to have an unexpected side-effect. Since
parenthood in modernized couples has to be a joint decision, the male influence becomes
stronger. And this influence has a general postponing effect.

As for the interplay between the internal and external procedures, it seems probable that also
the modernization of the life course will contribute to further delay. First because it simply
takes longer to get to the family formation moment. Second because the result of the changes
is the life course in a lot of countries is a gap in economic position between the phases with
and without children. All this contributes to delay, (male) hesitation and brings more women
to the moment they face medical problems or it is downright to late. Of course there is a lot of
work yet to be done to understand the differences between countries (or regions). And it will
be necessary to do real longitudinal research to follow specific groups during the process of
family formation. Further the modernization process cannot explain all, because in the
southern countries the economic factor seems to be of far more importance in explaining
delay (though again a check on regional differences would be interesting here).
The general issue that seems to be at stake in the „modernizing part‟ of Europe however is
that women for the first time in history get fewer children than they really would like to have.
For some of them this is a conscious decision taken as the worst of two evils. For others it is
the effect of the interplay between unfavourable external circumstances and unfavourable
internal circumstances: when neither society nor ones partner shows any enthousiasm
motherhood is a less attractive option.

In sum, there is no doubt that procreation as much is a female issue as it was some decades
ago. Then women often wanted to reduce their number of children against a lot of social
pressure from outside. At present rather a lot of women seem to face exactly the inverse


                                                                                                 59
problem: they have to carry their wish to have a(nother) child past some barriers in their direct
and indirect environment. They often have to convince themselves that they make the right
decision in risking their own societal contacts or careers. They have to convince partners that
the family experience will be worth wile to abandon some societal riches and benefits. And
they have to do so in a rather ambivalent environment that wants them to do very different
things at the same time: such as participate in the labour market of today and get children for
the labour market of tomorrow. The „social indicators‟ for the next generation are not that
positive, not in the subjective perception of mothers themselves, not in the objective
measurement of the position of parents in the modern life course.




                                                                                              60
       APPENDIX 1


       Data source and main definitions

       The European Community Household Panel

The European Community Household Panel (ECHP) was used as the data source for this
report. The ECHP is a survey based on a standardised questionnaire, that involves annual
interviewing of a representative panel of households and individuals in each European Union
Member State. It covers a wide range of topics such as income (including social transfers),
health, education, housing, demographic and employment characteristics. The longitudinal
structure of the ECHP makes it possible to follow up and interview the same households and
individuals over several consecutive years.

The first wave of the ECHP was conducted in 1994 in the twelve Member States of the
European Union at that time. The survey was based on a sample of some 60,500 households
(about 170,000 individuals). Since then, Austria (in 1995) and Finland (in 1996) have joined
the project. All individuals in the (weighted) sample population of the 1996 wave of the
ECHP were taken as the units of analysis.

Still, since the results in this report are based on survey data collected by taking samples of
observations from the various populations of the Member States, the reader should realise that
fair margins should be taken into account in drawing conclusions from the figures. This
applies not only when considering differences, but also when considering apparent equality
between countries. These margins are likely to be wider than in the case of simple random
sampling due to design effects and clustering of individuals within households.

In the ECHP User Data Base, weights are included for households and persons by Eurostat.
These weights are calculated taking into account the sample design - this is reflected by the
design weights – and characteristics of persons and households. The weights are calibrated to
reflect the structure of the population. Eurostat document DOC.PAN 165/00 “construction of
weights in the ECHP” describes the weighting procedures that have been implemented for
calculating weights in the ECHP.

                                      Main Definitions

Income

Total household income is taken to be all the net monetary income received by the household
and its members at the time of the interview (1996) during the survey reference year (1995).
This includes income from work (employment and self-employment), private income (from
investments, property and private transfers to the household), pensions and other social
transfers directly received. For some income components, the data may be of poor quality.
These include self-employment income, property income and private transfers. Moreover, no
account has been taken of indirect social transfers (such as the reimbursement of medical
expenses), receipts in kind and imputed rent for owner-occupied accommodation. As the
weight of these income components may be different in the different countries, full
comparability of income statistics is hampered. Results on the level and distribution of



                                                                                            61
income from the ECHP should therefore be treated with some caution. This holds especially
for young adults, since student income is likely to be underestimated.

       Standardised income

In order to take into account differences in household size and composition in the comparison
of income levels, the amounts given here are per “equivalent adult”. The household‟s total
income is divided by its „equivalent size‟, using the modified OECD equivalence scale. This
scale gives a weight of 1.0 to the first adult, 0.5 to the second and each subsequent person
aged 14 and over, and 0.3 to each child aged under 14 in the household. It should be noted
that standardised income is defined on the household level, so that each person (adult or child)
in the same household has the same standardised income.

Purchasing power parities (PPP)

Incomes cannot be made directly comparable by using currency exchange rates, as the
difference in purchasing power of a particular monetary unit in the different countries will not
be taken into account by it. The conversion rates, that take both rates of exchange and
differences in purchasing power into account are called Purchasing power parities (PPP).
They convert every national monetary unit into a common reference unit, the “purchasing
power standard” (PPS), of which every unit can buy the same amount of goods and services
across the countries in a specific year. However, in the ECHP, the measurement of income
related to the preceding year, so the conversion rates between PPS and the national currencies
used in 1996 are 1995 PPPs. These rates are: B (42.13), DK (9.740), D (2.148), EL (236.5), E
(134.9), F (7.274), IRL (0.7032), I (1.696), L (40.79), NL (2.250), A (15.19), P (142.7), FIN
(7.012), UK (0.7305).




                                                                                             62
63
APPENDIX 2


DESCRIPTION OF HOUSEHOLD VARIABLE.

In this note a householdvariable called Personal Development Phase (in Dutch:
OntwikkelingsFase van een Persoon or OFP ) is described.
In short, this variable indicates the household situation an individual finds himself, using the
following categories :

Tabel1 Classification of the variabele Personal Household Phase
   1 Living together with parent or parents
   2 Living together with partner (married or cohabiting)
   3 Living together with partner and children
   4 Living together with children
   5 Living together with others
   6 Living alone

Changes from one category to another may be considered to be important transitions in the
lifecourse of an individual. Because of this, this variable is particularly useful in longitudinal
analyses, in calculating individual transitions and spells (duration in a specific situation),
This variable is derived from two household variables, namely Household Composition and
Position in the Household. Two examples may clarify the properties of this derivation. For
instance, if a household comprises a married couple and their daughter, then from the point of
view of the husband and wife, they live together with partner and child, while the child lives
together with her parents. If a household comprises a married couple, a daughter and a
grandmother, then husband and wife live with partner and child, the daughter lives with her
parents and the grandmother lives with others. Note that for defining the code for husband,
wife and the daughter the relationship to the grandmother is ignored. The categories 1 to 5
indicated above therefore should in fact be extended with the phrase “with or without others”.
In the countries of North - Western Europe there is no use to create subcategories “..With
others”, because households are for the largest part confined to nuclear families. However,
this situation is quite different in the Mediterranean countries, where a relatively large number
of three – generation households can be found. To take these differences in household
composition between northern and southern European countries in consideration, an
additional version of OFP has been derived, called OFP1. However, instead of dividing each
category in two ones “with others” and “without others”, all situations “with others” have
been grouped into one extra category in comparison with the derivation OFP.
The two variables OFP and OFP1 have been derived in this specific case from the variables
HD006 and Relatx, both incorporated in the ECHP - datafile.
The classification of these variables is shown in the table 2

Table two Classifications of ECHP-variables HD006 and Relax
HD006                                     Relatx
1 one person aged >=65                    0 person himself
2 one person aged 30-64                   1 PID1 and PID2 are spouse
3 one person aged <30                            2 PID2 is own child of PID!
4 single parent all child 16+             3 PID2 is own step/adopted child of PID1
5 single parent at least one child 16+           4 PID1 and PID2 are siblings


                                                                                               64
6 couple one person >=65 no child          5 PID1 and PID2 are step/adopted/foster siblings

7 couple both <65 no child                 6 PID2 is grandchild of PID1
8 couple with just 1 child <16                   7 PID2 is son/daughter–in-law of PID1

9 couple with just two children <16               8 Other relationship
10 couple with 3 or more children <16             9 Not related
11 couple with one or more children 16 +
12 other households

The two variables have been computed in the following way. First a variable SamHH has
been derived from HD006. With that, it should be born in mind that the category “Other
Households”comprise all households with “others”. Through the three Help functions this
category has been allocated to the category “Couples”, “couples with children” or “Single
Parent” for the derivation of OFP.
For the derivation of OFP1 the original category 12 could be simply used
The program rules for the derivation of SamHH and the allocation of category 12 are shown
in Table 3. The derivation of OFP and OFP1 is explained in Table 4.

IF (HD006=' 1') OR
   (HD006=' 2') OR
   (HD006=' 3') THEN SamHH :='1' {living alone}
ELSEIF (HD006 = ' 4') OR
           (HD006 = ' 5') THEN SamHH:='2' {single parent}
ELSEIF (HD006 = ' 6') OR
          (HD006 = ' 7') THEN SamHH:='3' {couple}
ELSEIF (HD006 = ' 8') OR
           (HD006 = ' 9') OR
           (HD006 = '10') OR
           (HD006 = '11') THEN SamHH:='4' {couple +child}
ELSEIF (HD006 = ' -9') THEN SamHH:='6'
ELSEIF (HD006 = '12') OR
           (HD006 = ' 4') THEN SamHH:='5' {other}
ENDIF
IF SamHH='5' THEN
    Help1 :=0 Help2 :=0 Help3 :=0
  FOR i:= 1 to 14 do
      IF Relatx[i]= ' 1' THEN Help1 := Help1+1
      ENDIF
      IF Relatx[i]= ' 2' THEN Help2 := Help2+1
      ENDIF
      IF Relatx[i]= ' 3' THEN Help3 :=Help3+1
      ENDIF
  ENDDO
  IF (Help1>0) AND
     ((help2>0) OR
    (help3>0)) THEN SamHH :='4'
  ENDIF
  IF (Hhelp1>0) AND
      ((Help2 = 0) AND (Help3 = 0)) THEN SamHH :='3'


                                                                                         65
 ENDIF
  IF (Help1=0) AND
    ((help2>0) of (help3>0)) THEN SamHH :='2'
 ENDIF
ENDIF


IF SamHH = 1 THEN OFP := 5
ENDIF
IF SamHH=2 THEN
  IF Relatx =' 0' THEN OFP := 4
  ELSEIF Relatx = ' 2' THEN OFP := 1
  ELSEIF Relatx = ' 3' THEN OFP := 1
  ELSEIF Relatx = '-9' THEN OFP := -9
  ELSEIF Relatx = '99' THEN OFP := -9
  ELSEIF (Relatx >' 3') and (Relat <'99') THEN OFP := 6
  ENDIF

ELSEIF Samhh=3 THEN
 IF Relatx =' 0' THEN OFP := 2
 ELSEIF Relatx =' 1' THEN OFP := 2
 ELSEIF Relatx =' -9' THEN OFP := -9
 ELSEIF Relatx = '99' THEN OFP := -9
 ELSEIF (Relatx >' 1') AND (Relatx < '99') THEN OFP := 6
 ENDIF

ELSEIF SamHH= 4 THEN
 IF      Relatx=' 0' THEN OFP := 3
 ELSEIF Relatx=' 1' THEN OFP := 3
 ELSEIF Relatx=' 2' THEN OFP := 1
 ELSEIF Relatx=' 3' THEN OFP := 1
 ELSEIF Relatx='-9' THEN OFP := -9
 ELSEIF Relatx='99' THEN OFP := -9
 ELSEIF (Relatx>' 3') AND (Relatx<'99') THEN OFP:=6
 ENDIF
ELSEIF SamHH=5 THEN OFP:= 6
ELSEIF SamHH=6 THEN OFP:=- 9
ENDIF

IF (HD006 ='12') AND
  (OFP<>6) AND
  (OFP<>-9) THEN OFP1 := 7
ELSE OFP1:= OFP
ENDIF




                                                           66
                                  HOUSEHOLDS EUROPE 1996

Appendix 3

      Life Phases Germany vg                     Persons
                                                 living:

                                                   with parents

                                                   with family and
                                                   others
                                                   with others

                                                   alone

                                                   with partner

                                                   with partner
                                                   and child(ren)
                                                   with child(ren)
  0     10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                       age




      Life Phases Denmark vg                     Persons
                                                 living:

                                                   with parents

                                                   with family and
                                                   others
                                                   with others

                                                   alone

                                                   with partner

                                                   with partner
                                                   and child(ren)
                                                   with child(ren)
  0     10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                       age




  Life Phases Netherlands vg                     Persons
                                                 living:

                                                   with parents

                                                   with family and
                                                   others
                                                   with others

                                                   alone

                                                   with partner

                                                   with partner
                                                   and child(ren)
                                                   with child(ren)
        10   20   30         40   50   60
                       age




                                                                     67
    Life Phases Belgium vg                       Persons
                                                 living:

                                                   with parents

                                                   with family and
                                                   others
                                                   with others

                                                   alone

                                                   with partner

                                                   with partner
                                                   and child(ren)
                                                   with child(ren)
0     10   20   30         40    50    60
                     age




Life Phases Luxembourg vg                        Persons
                                                 living:

                                                   with parents

                                                   with family and
                                                   others
                                                   with others

                                                   alone

                                                   with partner

                                                   with partner
                                                   and child(ren)
                                                   with child(ren)
0     10   20   30         40   50    60    70
                     age




    Life Phases France vg                        Persons
                                                 living:

                                                   with parents

                                                   with family and
                                                   others
                                                   with others

                                                   alone

                                                   with partner

                                                   with partner
                                                   and child(ren)
                                                   with child(ren)
0     10   20   30         40   50    60    70
                     age




                                                                     68
     Life Phases UK vg                        Persons
                                              living:

                                                with parents

                                                with family and
                                                others
                                                with others

                                                alone

                                                with partner

                                                with partner
                                                and child(ren)
                                                with child(ren)
0    10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                    age




    Life Phases Ireland vg                    Persons
                                              living:

                                                with parents

                                                with family and
                                                others
                                                with others

                                                alone

                                                with partner

                                                with partner
                                                and child(ren)
                                                with child(ren)
0    10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                    age




     Life Phases Italy vg                     Persons
                                              living:

                                                with parents

                                                with family and
                                                others
                                                with others

                                                alone

                                                with partner

                                                with partner
                                                and child(ren)
                                                with child(ren)
0    10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                    age




                                                                  69
    Life Phases Greece vg                      Persons
                                               living:

                                                 with parents

                                                 with family and
                                                 others
                                                 with others

                                                 alone

                                                 with partner

                                                 with partner
                                                 and child(ren)
                                                 with child(ren)
0     10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                     age




     Life Phases Spain vg                      Persons
                                               living:

                                                 with parents

                                                 with family and
                                                 others
                                                 with others

                                                 alone

                                                 with partner

                                                 with partner
                                                 and child(ren)
                                                 with child(ren)
0     10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                     age




    Life Phases Portugal vg                    Persons
                                               living:

                                                 with parents

                                                 with family and
                                                 others
                                                 with others

                                                 alone

                                                 with partner

                                                 with partner
                                                 and child(ren)
                                                 with child(ren)
0     10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                     age




                                                                   70
    Life Phases Austria vg                    Persons
                                              living:

                                                with parents

                                                with family and
                                                others
                                                with others

                                                alone

                                                with partner

                                                with partner
                                                and child(ren)
                                                with child(ren)
0    10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                    age




    Life Phases Finland vg                    Persons
                                              living:

                                                with parents

                                                with family and
                                                others
                                                with others

                                                alone

                                                with partner

                                                with partner
                                                and child(ren)
                                                with child(ren)
0    10   20   30         40   50   60   70
                    age




                                                                  71
         Income Curves 3 Household Categories
                   EUROPE 1996


APPENDIX 3



                                            Germany


                                Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                             Germany
         median standarized




                              25000
                              20000
              income




                                                            w ith partner
                              15000
                                                            w ith partner and child
                              10000                         alone
                               5000
                                  0
                                      28   38     48   58
                                            age




                                            Denmark


                                Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                             Denmark
         median standarized




                              25000
                              20000
              income




                              15000                         w ith partner
                                                            w ith partner and child
                              10000                         alone
                              5000
                                 0
                                      28   38     48   58
                                           age




                                                                                      72
                                            Netherlands

                             Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                        Netherlands

    median standarized    25000
         income           20000
                                                            w ith partner
                          15000
                                                            w ith partner and child
                          10000                             alone
                          5000
                             0
                                  28   38      48    58
                                        age




                                            Belgium

                           Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                        Belgium
median standarized




                         25000
                         20000
     income




                         15000                            w ith partner
                                                          w ith partner and child
                         10000                            alone
                          5000
                             0
                                  28   38     48    58
                                       age




                             Luxembourg (let op: schaal is anders)

                           Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                      Luxembourg
median standarized




                         40000
                         30000
     income




                                                          w ith partner
                         20000                            w ith partner and child
                                                          alone
                         10000
                             0
                                  28   38     48    58
                                       age




                                                                                      73
                                       France


                       Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                     France
median standarized
                     25000
                     20000
     income

                                                     w ith partner
                     15000
                                                     w ith partner and child
                     10000                           alone
                      5000
                         0
                             28   38     48     58
                                   age




                              United Kingdom

                       Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                United Kingdom
median standarized




                     25000
                     20000
     income




                                                     w ith partner
                     15000
                                                     w ith partner and child
                     10000                           alone
                     5000
                        0
                             28   38     48   58
                                  age




                                   Ireland




                                                                               74
                         Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                       Ireland



median standarized
                       25000
                       20000


     income
                       15000                           w ith partner
                                                       w ith partner and child
                       10000                           alone
                       5000
                          0
                               28    38     48    58
                                     age




                                          Italy

                          Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                          Italy
  median standarized




                       25000
                       20000
       income




                                                       w ith partner
                       15000
                                                       w ith partner and child
                       10000                           alone
                        5000
                           0
                                28   38     48    58
                                      age




                                      Greece

                          Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                        Greece
  median standarized




                       25000
                       20000
       income




                                                       with partner
                       15000
                                                       with partner and child
                       10000                           alone
                        5000
                           0
                               28    38     48    58
                                      age




                                                                                 75
                                       Spain

                        Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                      Spain

median standarized   25000
     income          20000
                                                    w ith partner
                     15000
                                                    w ith partner and child
                     10000                          alone
                      5000
                         0
                             28   38     48    58
                                   age




                                  Portugal


                        Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                     Portugal
median standarized




                     25000
                     20000
     income




                     15000                          w ith partner
                                                    w ith partner and child
                     10000                          alone
                      5000
                        0
                             28   38     48    58
                                   age




                                   Austria




                                                                              76
                        Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                      Austria



median standarized
                     25000
                     20000


     income
                     15000                          w ith partner
                                                    w ith partner and child
                     10000                          alone
                     5000
                        0
                             28    38     48   58
                                   age




                                    Finland

                        Income Curves 3 Household Types vg
                                      Finland
median standarized




                     25000
                     20000
     income




                     15000                          w ith partner
                                                    w ith partner and child
                     10000                          alone
                      5000
                         0
                              28   38     48   58
                                    age




                                                                              77
                                       Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                   Germany
                           20000
    S tandardized income




                                                                          with parents
                           15000                                          transition
                                                                          with partner
                                                                          with partner and child
                           10000
                                                                          alone


                            5000
                                   0     10   20   30    40   50   60
                                                   Age


                                   Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                               Denmark
                           20000
 S tandardized income




                                                                         with parents
                           15000                                         transition
                                                                         with partner

                           10000                                         with partner and child
                                                                         alone

                            5000
                                   0     10   20   30    40   50    60
                                                   Age




APPEENDIX 5: LIFE PHASE INCOME CURVES EUROPE 1996




                                                                                                   78
                                     Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                               Netherlands
                         20000
  S tandardized income




                                                                            with parents
                         15000                                              transition
                                                                            with partner

                         10000                                              with partner and child
                                                                            alone

                          5000
                                 0     10   20   30      40    50    60
                                                  Age



                                     Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                  France
                         20000
S tandardized income




                                                                          with parents
                         15000                                            transition
                                                                          with partner
                         10000                                            with partner and child
                                                                          alone

                          5000
                                 0    10    20   30     40    50    60
                                                 Age




                                                                                                     79
                                         Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                   Luxembourg
                          30000
   S tandardized income




                          25000                                                              with parents
                                                                                             transition
                          20000
                                                                                             with partner
                          15000                                                              with partner and child
                                                                                             alone
                          10000

                           5000
                                     0     10        20        30    40    50   60
                                                               Age


                                  Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                               Ireland
                       20000
S tandardized income




                                                                                     with parents
                       15000                                                         transition
                                                                                     with partner
                                                                                     with partner and child
                       10000
                                                                                     alone


                          5000
                                 0       10     20        30    40    50   60
                                                          Age




                                                                                                                      80
                                                 Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                             Belgium

                                         15000
                   Standardized income




                                                                                                    with parents
                                                                                                    transition
                                         10000                                                      with partner
                                                                                                    with partner and child
                                                                                                    alone

                                          5000
                                                 0        10    20     30    40   50   60

                                                                       Age


                                               Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                       United Kingdom

                       15000
S tandardized income




                                                                                            with parents
                                                                                            transition

                       10000                                                                with partner
                                                                                            with partner and child
                                                                                            alone


                              5000
                                           0         10    20   30     40    50   60
                                                                 Age




                                                                                                                             81
                                      Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                    Italy
                          20000
   S tandardized income




                                                                             with parents
                          15000                                              transition
                                                                             with partner
                                                                             with partner and child
                          10000
                                                                             alone


                           5000
                                  0    10    20    30    40    50    60
                                                   Age


                                      Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                   Greece
                          20000
S tandardized income




                                                                          with parents
                          15000
                                                                          transition
                                                                          with partner

                          10000                                           with partner and child
                                                                          alone


                           5000
                                  0    10   20    30    40    50    60
                                                  Age




                                                                                                      82
                                Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                              Spain
                       20000
S tandardized income




                                                                         with parents
                       15000
                                                                         transition
                                                                         with partner

                       10000                                             with partner and child
                                                                         alone

                        5000
                                0    10   20   30     40    50    60
                                                Age



                                    Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                Portugal
                        20000
 S tandardized income




                                                                       with parents
                        15000
                                                                       transition
                                                                       with partner
                        10000
                                                                       with partner and child
                         5000                                          alone


                            0
                                0    10   20   30     40   50    60
                                               Age




                                                                                                  83
                                      Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                   Austria
                       20000
S tandardized income




                                                                                               with parents
                       15000
                                                                                               transition
                                                                                               with partner

                       10000                                                                   with partner and child
                                                                                               alone

                        5000
                                  0    10        20        30        40        50        60
                                                           Age


                                      Life Phase Income Curve W3 VG
                                                   Finland
             15000
S tandardized income




                                                                                              with parents
             10000                                                                            transition
                                                                                              with partner

                       5000                                                                   with partner and child
                                                                                              alone

                          0
                              0       10    20        30        40        50        60
                                                      Age




                                                                                                                        84
APPENDIX 6: FAMILY BURDEN INDICATOR (FBI)


The report on the Family Burden Indicator is due to its length not included in this report but
available as a separate copy.




                                                                                                 85
  Appendix 7: Statistics interviews

AGE          COUNTRY
FEMALE
      in %   Germany      Sweden    UK       Ireland      Belgium      Austria     Spain    Total
<=25                    11                20            25           30          5        10       14
26-30                   32        20      47            30           45         42        10       32
31-35                   37        60      27            25           25         37        55       38
>=36                    21        20       7            20                      16        25       16
Count                   19        20      15            20           20         19        20      133
Total                  100       100     100           100          100        100       100      100

AGE MALE COUNTRY
      in % Germany    Sweden    UK           Ireland      Belgium       Austria    Spain     Total
<=25                                       7                          5                    5         2
26-30               42        11          47            30           55          32       10        32
31-35               32        47          33            30           25          47       25        34
>=36                26        42          13            40           15          21       60        32
Count               19        19          15            20           20          19       20       132
Total              100       100         100           100          100         100      100       100

CHILDREN COUNTRY
      in %    Germany    Sweden    UK       Ireland       Belgium      Austria    Spain    Total
            0          37        15       27            30           20         26       20       25
            1          37        35       53            35           40         42       25       38
            2          26        35       20            20           30         21       30       26
           3+                    15                     15           20         11       25       11
Count                  19        20       15            20           20         19       20      133
Total                 100       100      100           100          100        100      100      100

SALARY        COUNTRY
      in %    Germany    Sweden    UK       Ireland       Belgium      Austria    Spain    Total
single earner          68        35       53            25           40         53       47       45
double earner          32        65       47            75           60         47       53       55
Count                  19        20       15            20           20         19       19      132
Total                 100       100      100           100          100        100      100      100


DOMINANC COUNTRY
E FEMALE
      in %  Germany     Sweden    UK         Ireland      Belgium       Austria    Spain    Total
subordinate           5         17         0            11            5          11       11       29
neutral              42         55        50            28           75          47       53       55
predominant          53         28        50            61           20          42       37       16
Count                19         18        14            18           20          19       19      127
Total               100        100       100           100          100         100      100      100

DOMINANC COUNTRY
E MALE
     in %   Germany   Sweden        UK       Ireland      Belgium       Austria     Spain     Total
subordinate         31            33      50            42            5           26        22       29
neutral             56            56      43            47           75           53        50       55
predominant         13            11       7            11           20           21        28       16
Count               16            18      14            19           20           19        18      124



                                                                                                  86
Total               100        100      100           100          100          100       100        100

REGION       COUNTRY
      in %   Germany    Sweden    UK        Ireland      Belgium      Austria    Spain     Total
Urban                 63        70       93            70           80        100      100        79
Rural                 37        30        7            30           20                            21
Count                 19        20       15            20           20         19        1       114
Total                100       100      100           100          100        100      100       100

SALIENCY COUNTRY
FEMALE
      in %   Germany     Sweden    UK      Ireland       Belgium      Austria     Spain      Total
never/seldom           5                               10                                  22          5
now and then          58         50      47            45           25           53        83         48
Often                 37         50      53            45           75           47                   47
Count                 19         20      15            20           20           19        18        131
Total                100        100     100           100          100          100       100        100

SALIENCY COUNTRY
MALE
      in %   Germany    Sweden    UK       Ireland       Belgium       Austria     Spain    Total
never/seldom          10                               15            5           5        26        9
now and then          74        50       47            50           35          53        63       53
Often                 16        50       53            35           60          43        11       38
Count                 19        20       15            20           20          19        19      132
Total                100       100      100           100          100         100       100      100




                                                                                                 87
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