women’s lives 3 – Family planning in women’s lives - unintended pregnancies and pregnancy conflicts
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women’s lives 3 – Family planning in women’s lives - unintended pregnancies and pregnancy conflicts

women’s lives 3 – Family planning in women’s lives - unintended pregnancies and pregnancy conflicts

Project profile



Project team

Project management
Prof. Cornelia Helfferich
Sozialwissenschaftliches FrauenForschungsInstitut Freiburg (SoFFI F.),
in association with the Institut für Soziologie at the University of Freiburg,
Prof. Wolfgang Essbach

Heike Klindworth, Dipl.-Biol.,
Yvonne Heine, M. A.,
Ines Wlosnewski, Dipl.-Demogr.,
Judith Eckert, M. A.,
Annemarie Graf, M. A.,
Christine Straub, M. A.,
Rainer Wagner as well as interviewers and those involved in evaluating the qualitative part of the study

Implementation of the telephone interviews
TNS Emnid, Bielefeld, Abteilung Empirische Sozialforschung
Heidrun Bode



Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung
Maarweg 149-161
50825 Köln
Tel.: 0221 8992-0
Fax: 0221 8992-300
Project Manager: Angelika Hessling


Research institution

Sozialwissenschaftliches FrauenForschungsInstitut Freiburg (SoFFI F.)
Buggingerstrasse 38
79114 Freiburg
Tel.: 0761 478126-90
Fax: 0761 478126-99


Research design

Project period July 2011 to February 2014


Cornerstones of the study

  • A broad understanding of family planning
    Family planning is more than just contraception or planning to have children. It includes all of the decisions and developments with which private life with or without children is shaped.
  • Biographical approach and life-circumstance approach
    This survey asked retrospectively about family planning events in women’s lives, such as all of the participants’ pregnancies. The survey also asked about the age/life-phase as well as the life circumstances during which the pregnancies occurred.
  • Combination of methods: integration of the perspective of women and women experts
    In addition to the statistical biographical data, the study evaluated the women’s own stories about their lives to capture their personal viewpoints and reasons. In addition, the study wanted to know about the perspective of women counsellors from family and pregnancy advice centres.

  • Socio-geographical approach: a comparison between federal states
    The four selected states represent the differences between east (old GDR) and west Germany as well as differences between ‘city states’ (Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen, here represented by Berlin) and the rest (here represented by Baden-Württemberg, Lower Saxony and Saxony), with regard to a number of indicators in family planning and social structure. This study is representative of the individual states.

  • Comparisons over time
    Since this study is geared to previous studies, it is possible to make comparisons with results from 1998 for women without a migrant background, from 2007–2010 for migrant women, and from 2001 for men.


Sample and method

  • Quantitative survey
    • 4,002 women between the ages of 20 and 44, with data about 4,794 pregnancies
    • random sample from the phone books in Baden-Württemberg, Berlin, Lower Saxony and Saxony; 1,000 women per state
    • telephone survey with a standardized questionnaire

    The standardized questionnaire asks questions about all past pregnancies and seeks to find out whether they were wanted or not. It also asks about the women’s relationship and work status as well as their financial situation at the time the pregnancy occurred. This can be related to the women’s personal background, their biography as well as their attitudes. There were in-depth questions about unintended pregnancies – both those that were carried to term and those that were terminated. The regional differences of the four survey areas were taken into account during the evaluation.
  • Qualitative survey
    • 97 one-on-one interviews with women who had had at least one unintended pregnancy and either carried it to term or terminated it
    • Contrastive sample formed from the sample from the quantitative survey
    • Partially narrative, biographical guided interviews. The respective information provided in the standardized and qualitative survey sections can be related.
    In the qualitative one-on-one interviews the participating women were able to express their subjective viewpoints. Learning about their ideas on family planning and on shaping their life phases with and without children allows us to develop a deeper understanding of the statistical results obtained in the quantitative survey.

    Interviews with family-planning experts 26 interviews with employees of advice centres with different focuses and funding bodies in the four states.