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Hudde, Ansgar; Friedrich, Carmen (2019): Having power, having babies? Fertility patterns among German elite politicians. In: Zeitschrifte für Familienforschung-Journal of Family Research, Vol. 31, No. 1: pp. 27-39
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Members of the political elite have far-reaching influence on the overall society. In this paper, we analyse fertility patterns among the German political elite for two reasons: First, we learn more about the living circumstances of a subgroup that makes crucial decisions and could serve as a role model for the general population. Second, we gain insight into the association between social status and fertility patterns at the top tier of the status distribution. We collect biographical data from all high-rank politicians in Germany in 2006 and/or 2017, comprising 184 women and 353 men. We compare fertility patterns in this subgroup to the general population, as well as we differentiate the number of children by politicians' gender, region (eastern/western Germany), party affiliation, and other variables. Results show that, on average, male politicians have relatively many children: 2.0 in western Germany, and 2.2 in eastern Germany. Female politicians have very few children in western Germany (1.3) and relatively many in eastern Germany (1.9). The east-west gap between men and women is entirely driven by differences in childlessness. For men, the observation of high fertility in this high-status group could hint towards a positive association between social status and fertility at the top of the status distribution. For women, large east-west differences in this subgroup could mean that the association between social status and fertility at the top of the status distribution might be negative or positive, depending on macro-level characteristics such as gender norms and work-family reconciliation policies.