What Influences the Rate of Entry into Motherhood of Women Enrolled in Full-Time Education? A Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Effect of the German Unification

Gwendolin J. Blossfeld


The purpose of this paper is to study the entry into motherhood of women in full-time education in East and West Germany before and after German unification. Using longitudinal data from the ‘National Educational Panel Study’ (NEPS), we have conducted a difference-in-differences analysis and apply multivariate methods. Our longitudinal analysis demonstrated that the conflict between the sequencing norm and the age norm is dependent on women’s age, social origin, and pro-natalist state support for women in full-time education. Women who are enrolled in education enter motherhood more often as age increases, since the pressure coming from the normative timing of motherhood is increasing, although with a declining slope. To avoid the jeopardizing consequences of motherhood on educational success, families from higher social origins have a stronger desire that women should first finish education before they have their first baby. The results of our analysis also demonstrate that the fertility behaviour of young East German women who are enrolled in full-time education has changed with German unification.


educational enrolment; young motherhood; fertility; German unification.

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