18% of the female population in Germany have a migrant background. More than one fifth of these women are aged between 20 and 44 and thus at an age when family planning and family formation are current issues. Since there is little in the way of fundamental knowledge regarding family formation, contraception and pregnancy termination in this (by place of origin) heterogeneous group, the BZgA commissioned the study “women’s lives: family planning and migration in women’s lives”. In the context of this research project 1,674 women with a migrant background and 839 German women aged between 20 and 44 were surveyed. The examination focused on the two largest migrant groups, i.e. women with a Turkish migrant background and women with an eastern European migrant background. The surveys were conducted in the cities of Berlin, Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Oberhausen.

The study picks up on the key points of the research approach of the study "women’s lives. family planning in women’s lives" (1998–2001): a comprehensive understanding of family planning as a private life choice, the inclusion of the biographical perspective as well as the combination of a standardized telephone survey with a qualitative sub-study that allows for taking the women’s subjective views into account. In the evaluation there was further differentiation within the individual migrant groups (particularly by education and generation membership). The study thus does not (just) focus on cultural differences, it also gives significant weight to the social circumstances of migrants.

A central result is that there are clear differences between the groups regarding the dynamics of their reproductive biographies. These differences have their origin, among other things, in their different migration profiles (significance of marital migration, ethnic-German immigration, immigration “filter”). For women with a Turkish migrant background living in Germany it can generally be said that they start having children early and once they have had several children they also complete their families early. The family phase of the eastern European women also began early, either in their country of origin or in Germany, but it then stretched out over more years. The migration event itself, growing up in Germany and a higher level of education all “pushed back” the family phase to an older age. The women’s contraceptive behaviour and their pregnancy terminations can be explained within the framework of this dynamic. Conclusions on the need for information and advice on family planning were drawn.