, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 1305–1330 | Cite as

Fertility Intentions and Residential Relocations

  • Sergi VidalEmail author
  • Johannes Huinink
  • Michael Feldhaus


This research addresses the question of whether fertility intentions (before conception) are associated with residential relocations and the distance of the relocation. We empirically tested this using data from two birth cohorts (aged 24–28 and 34–38 in the first survey wave) of the German Family Panel (pairfam) and event history analysis. Bivariate analyses showed that coupled individuals relocated at a higher rate if they intended to have a(nother) child. We found substantial heterogeneity according to individuals’ age and parental status, particularly for outside-town relocations. Childless individuals of average age at family formation—a highly mobile group—relocated at a lower rate if they intended to have a child. In contrast, older individuals who already had children—the least-mobile group—relocated at a higher rate if they intended to have another child. Multivariate analyses show that these associations are largely due to adjustments in housing and other living conditions. Our results suggest that anticipatory relocations (before conception) to adapt to growing household size are importantly nuanced by the opportunities and rationales of couples to adjust their living conditions over the life course. Our research contributes to the understanding of residential mobility as a by-product of fertility decisions and, more broadly, evidences that intentions matter and need to be considered in the analysis of family life courses.


Fertility intentions Spatial mobility Life course Pairfam Event history analysis 



This research was partially supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Grant No.VI711/1-1) and by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course (Project No. CE140100027).

Supplementary material

13524_2017_592_MOESM1_ESM.docx (71 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 70 kb)


  1. Allison, P. D. (2002). Missing data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balbo, N., Billari, F. C., & Mills, M. (2013). Fertility in advanced societies: A review of research. European Journal of Population, 29, 1–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blossfeld, H.-P., & Rohwer, G. (1995). Techniques of event history modeling: New approaches to causal analysis. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  4. Brandén, M., & Haandrikman, K. (2013). Who moves to whom? Gender differences in the distance moved to a shared residence (Stockholm Research Reports in Demography 2013:19). Stockholm, Sweden: Department of Sociology, Demography Unit, Stockholm University.Google Scholar
  5. Brüderl, J., Schmiedeberg, C., Castiglioni, L., Arránz Becker, O., Buhr, P., Fuß, D., . . . Schumann, N. (2015). The German Family Panel: Study design and cumulated field report (Waves 1 to 6), Release 6.0 (Pairfam Technical Paper No. 01). Bonn, Germany: German Research Foundation.Google Scholar
  6. Buhr, P., & Huinink, J. (2012). Die bedeutung familienpolitischer maßnahmen für die entscheidung zum kind [The importance of family policy for fertility decisions]. Zeitschrift für Sozialreform, 58, 315–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carlson, M. J. (2012). Understanding young fertility in the context of economic disadvantage. In A. Booth, S. L. Brown, N. S. Landale, W. D. Manning, & S. M. McHale (Eds.), Early adulthood in a family context (pp. 221–227). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark, W. A. V. (2013). Life course events and residential change: Unpacking age effects on the probability of moving. Journal of Population Research, 30, 319–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clark, W. A. V., & Davies Withers, S. (2007). Family migration and mobility sequences in the United States: Spatial mobility in the context of the life course. Demographic Research, 17(article 20), 591–622. doi: 10.4054/DemRes.2007.17.20 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark, W. A. V., & Davies Withers, S. (2009). Fertility, mobility and labour-force participation: A study of synchronicity. Population, Space and Place, 15, 305–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clark, W. A. V., Deurloo, M. C., & Dieleman, F. M. (1984). Housing consumption and residential mobility. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 74, 29–43.Google Scholar
  12. Clark, W. A. V., Deurloo, M. C., & Dieleman, F. M. (1994). Tenure changes in the context of micro-level family and macro-level economic shifts. Urban Studies, 31, 137–154.Google Scholar
  13. Clark, W. A. V., & Huang, Y. (2003). The life course and residential mobility in British housing markets. Environment and Planning A, 35, 323–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clark, W. A. V., & Onaka, J. L. (1983). Life cycle and housing adjustment as explanations of residential mobility. Urban Studies, 20, 47–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Courgeau, D. (1985). Interaction between spatial mobility, family and career life-cycle: A French survey. European Sociological Review, 1, 139–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Courgeau, D. (1989). Family formation and urbanization. Population: An English Selection, 1, 123–146.Google Scholar
  17. Courgeau, D. (1990). Migration, family, and career: A life course approach. In P. B. Baltes, D. L. Featherman, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Life-span development and behaviour (Vol. 10, pp. 219–255). New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  18. Courgeau, D., & Lelièvre, E. (1988). Estimation of transition rates in dynamic household models. In N. Keilman, A. Kuijsten, & A. Vossen (Eds.), Modelling household formation and dissolution (pp. 160–176). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  19. De Jong, G. F., & Roempke Graefe, D. (2008). Family life course transitions and the economic consequences of internal migration. Population, Space and Place, 14, 267–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Feijten, P., & Mulder, C. H. (2002). The timing of household events and housing events in the Netherlands: A longitudinal perspective. Housing Studies, 17, 773–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Geist, C., & McManus, P. A. (2008). Geographical mobility over the life course: Motivations and implications. Population, Space and Place, 14, 283–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hedman, L. (2013). Moving near family? The influence of extended family on neighbourhood choice in an intra-urban context. Population, Space and Place, 19, 32–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hervitz, H. M. (1985). Selectivity, adaptation, or disruption? A comparison of alternative hypotheses on the effects of migration on fertility: The case of Brazil. International Migration Review, 19, 293–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Huinink, J., Brüderl, J., Nauck, B., Walper, S., Castiglioni, L., & Feldhaus, M. (2011). Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam): Conceptual framework and design. Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 23, 77–101.Google Scholar
  25. Huinink, J., & Feldhaus, M. (2012). Fertility and commuting behaviour in Germany. Comparative Population Studies, 37, 491–516.Google Scholar
  26. Huinink, J., & Kohli, M. (2014). A life-course approach to fertility. Demographic Research, 30(article 45), 1293–1326. doi: 10.4054/DemRes.2014.30.45 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Huinink, J., Vidal, S., & Kley, S. (2014). Individuals’ openness to migrate and job mobility. Social Science Research, 44, 1–14.Google Scholar
  28. Huinink, J., & Wagner, M. (1989). Regionale lebensbedingungen, migration und familienbildung [Regional living conditions, migration and family formation]. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 41, 669–689.Google Scholar
  29. Kley, S. (2011). Explaining the stages of migration within a life-course framework. European Sociological Review, 27, 469–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kreyenfeld, M., Andersson, G., & Pailhé, A. (2012). Economic uncertainty and family dynamics in Europe: Introduction. Demographic Research, 27(article 28), 835–852. doi: 10.4054/DemRes.2012.27.28 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kulu, H. (2005). Migration and fertility: Competing hypotheses re-examined. European Journal of Population, 21, 51–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kulu, H. (2008). Fertility and spatial mobility in the life course: Evidence from Austria. Environment and Planning A, 40, 632–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kulu, H., & Boyle, P. J. (2009). High fertility in city suburbs: Compositional or contextual effects? European Journal of Population, 25, 157–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kulu, H., Boyle, P. B., & Andersen, G. (2009). High suburban fertility: Evidence from four Northern European countries. Demographic Research, 21(article 31), 915–944. doi: 10.4054/DemRes.2009.21.31
  35. Kulu, H., & Milewski, N. (2007). Family change and migration in the life course: An introduction. Demographic Research, 17(article 19), 567–590. doi: 10.4054/DemRes.2007.17.19 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kulu, H., & Steele, F. (2013). Interrelationships between childbearing and housing transitions in the family life course. Demography, 50, 1687–1714.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kulu, H., & Vikat, A. (2008). Fertility differences by housing type: An effect of housing conditions or of selective moves? Demographic Research, 17(article 26), 775–802. doi: 10.4054/DemRes.2007.17.26 Google Scholar
  38. Kulu, H., & Washbrook, E. (2014). Residential context, migration and fertility in a modern urban society. Advances in Life Course Research, 21, 168–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lennartz, C., Arundel, R., & Ronald, R. (2016). Younger adults and homeownership in Europe through the global financial crisis. Population, Space and Place, 22, 823–835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lersch, P. M. (2014). Residential relocations and their consequences: Life course effects in England and Germany. Wiesbaden, Germany: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lesthaeghe, R. (2010). The unfolding story of the second demographic transition. Population and Development Review, 36, 211–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Limmer, R., & Schneider, N. F. (2008). Studying job-related spatial mobility in Europe. In N. F. Schneider & G. Meil (Eds.), Mobile living across Europe I (pp. 13–46). Opladen & Farmington Hills, MI: Barbara Budrich Publishers.Google Scholar
  43. Lindgren, U. (2003). Who is the counter-urban mover? Evidence from the Swedish urban system. International Journal of Population Geography, 9, 399–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mace, R. (2014). When not to have another baby: An evolutionary approach to low fertility. Demographic Research, 30(article 37), 1074–1096. doi: 10.4054/DemRes.2014.30.37 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Malmberg, B. (2012). Fertility cycles, age structure and housing demand. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 59, 467–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Meil, G. (2010). Geographic job mobility and parenthood decisions. Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 22, 171–195.Google Scholar
  47. Michielin, F., & Mulder, C. H. (2008). Family events and the residential mobility of couples. Environment and Planning A, 40, 2770–2790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Michielin, F., Mulder, C. H., & Zorlu, A. (2008). Distance to parents and geographical mobility. Population, Space and Place, 14, 327–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mulder, C. H. (2006). Home-ownership and family formation. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 21, 281–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mulder, C. H. (2013). Family dynamics and housing: Conceptual issues and empirical findings. Demographic Research, 29(article 14), 355–378. doi: 10.4054/DemRes.2013.29.14 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mulder, C. H., & Hooimeijer, P. (1999). Residential relocations in the life course. In L. J. G. Van Wissen & P. A. Dykstra (Eds.), Population issues: An interdisciplinary focus (pp. 159–186). The Hague, The Netherlands: Springer.Google Scholar
  52. Mulder, C. H., & Wagner, M. (2001). The connection between family formation and first-time home ownership in the context of West Germany and the Netherlands. European Journal of Population, 17, 137–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Müller, B., & Castiglioni, L. (2015). Attrition im Beziehungs und Familienpanel pairfam [Attrition in the German Family Panel pairfam]. In J. Schupp & C. Wolf (Eds.), Nonresponse bias (pp. 383–408). Weisbaden, Germany: Springer VS.Google Scholar
  54. Myers, S. M. (2010). Connecting the demographic dots: Geographic mobility and birth intentions. Journal of Family Issues, 31, 1622–1651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rossi, P. H. (1955). Why families move: A study in the social psychology of urban residential mobility. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.Google Scholar
  56. Rüger, H., Feldhaus, M., Becker, K. S., & Schlegel, M. (2012). Circular job-related spatial mobility in Germany: Comparative analyses of two representative surveys on the forms, prevalence and relevance in the context of partnership and family development. Comparative Population Studies, 36, 193–220.Google Scholar
  57. Vidal, S., & Lutz, K. (2014, June). Continuities and changes in internal migration biographies in West Germany: An analysis of event sequences. Paper presented at the European Population Conference, Budapest, Hungary.Google Scholar
  58. Vignoli, D., Rinesi, F., & Mussino, E. (2013). A home to plan the first child? Fertility intentions and housing conditions in Italy. Population, Space and Place, 19, 60–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wagner, M. (1989). Räumliche mobilität im lebensverlauf: Eine empirische untersuchung sozialer bedingungen der migration [Residential mobility over the lifecourse: An empirical investigation of the social conditions of migration]. Stuttgart, Germany: Ferdinand Enke.Google Scholar
  60. Wagner, M., & Mulder, C. H. (2014, June). Understanding the transition from living apart together to a cohabitation—Who moves to establish a co-residential partnership? Paper presented at the European Population Conference, Budapest, Hungary.Google Scholar
  61. Wagner, M., & Mulder, C. H. (2015). Spatial mobility, family dynamics, and housing transitions. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 67, 111–135. (in German)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Willekens, F. J. (1991). Understanding the interdependence between parallel careers. In J. J. Siegers, J. de Jong-Gierveld, & E. van Imhoff (Eds.), Female labour market behaviour and fertility (pp. 11–31). Berlin, Germany: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergi Vidal
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johannes Huinink
    • 2
  • Michael Feldhaus
    • 3
  1. 1.Life Course Centre & Institute for Social Science ResearchThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Research Center on Inequality and Social PolicyBremen UniversityBremenGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Social SciencesOldenburg UniversityOldenburgGermany

Personalised recommendations