Main research areas
The scientific research activities of the ifb focus on three fields: family monitoring, family education and evaluative practice research, and basic research about the diversity and dynamics of the family.
Family monitoring and the ‘‘ifb-Report on the Family in Bavaria’’
The Institute’s flagship research, on one hand, includes the continuous observation and monitoring of the state of the family in Bavaria and, on the other hand, focuses on conducting research on selected forms of family life and family situations for which little research has been carried out yet.
The ifb regularly publishes the “ifb-Report on the Family in Bavaria”. It is a highly regarded data report of demographic developments and specific topics of family life. The Report draws attention not only from the Bavarian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Family and Integration, but also from various researchers, organizations and associations in the field of family policy and family support.
The recent Report from 2014 highlighted “family friendliness in Bavaria” and focused on regional differentiations within the State of Bavaria. The Report included the results of two large research projects of the ifb, one about family friendliness in particular and the other about patterns of mothers’ returning to work after maternal leave.
In 2015, the ifb started working on the new “ifb-Report on the Family in Bavaria” which is scheduled for 2017/2018 and will highlight the living conditions of “big families” in Bavaria, i.e. families with three, four or more children.
Family education and evaluative practice research
Over recent decades, the expectations regarding the quality of education and the advancement of children have increased, the participation of both parents in the labour market has risen, and the diversity of living situations in families has increased. Against this background, it is the goal of family education to support families in raising their children and to achieve equal opportunities for families regardless of their circumstances of living.
Preventive family education should provide custom-fit and needs-based interventions to alleviate possible burdens families carry with regard to raising and socializing their children into an increasingly fast-moving society.
Supporting the Bavarian Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Family and Integration, the ifb conducts research that accompanies demonstration projects in order to establish new ways of intervention, develops low-threshold information materials for families in need, and offers workshops or conferences for professionals in the fields of social work and family intervention.
Basic research about family dynamics
The third cornerstone of the ifb’s research activities is doing basic research about the diversity and the dynamics of families in modern societies. The Institute’s research agenda covers a broad range of topics from early to late family life, from micro-level to macro-level approaches, applying all necessary quantitative and qualitative methods. In the short to medium term, the ifb defines “focus topics” of particular interest which are covered intensively for several years. In 2015, the Institutes basic research focused but was not limited to unintended childlessness, the division of labor in couples, and intergenerational relationships.
At the Institute, several projects have already been dedicated to the question which factors promote or hinder decisions in favour of parenthood. These projects dealt with specific difficulties and restrictions concerning this transition. For some couples, however, it has not been easy to fulfill their desire for having a child. Thus, unintended childlessness increasingly gains importance. There is a multitude of reasons for this, including health issues as well as social-cultural effects. Currently, research is being conducted on the living situation of women and men with an unfulfilled desire for having a child, on how they cope with it both as individuals and as a couple. Taking stock of the existing demand for in- formation and support is also part of this research. Additionally, the researchers accompany – by means of scientific monitoring – the implementation of coun- selling services and the establishment of multidisciplinary and multiprofessional networks on this topic.
Couples’ division of labor
For more than ten years, the ifb has been doing cutting-edge research in the field of housework and the division of labor within couples. Starting with a longitudinal investigation of the dynamics of housework sharing at the transition to parenthood in 2005, we are now engaged in studying the division of labor in older couples with a special focus on retirement and grandparenthood. During this period, the ifb received external funds for three large research projects from the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Against the backdrop of both demographic change and the overall ageing of the population, intergenerational relationships are being put up for discussion in a wide range of dimensions, e.g. with regard to the capacity of social security systems, or in respect of the demand for care for the elderly.
From the perspective of family research, intergenerational relationships are, in the first place, relationships of mutual exchange and support. The parents of adult children engage themselves by often high money transfers to their children, but also by investing time for both their children and their grandchildren. Thus, many parents benefit from their parents’ caring for grandchildren. Simultaneously, adult children often provide care and support for their aged (step-)parents.
In the light of the huge importance and growing priority of these interrelations, the Institute enhances the research endeavours on different aspects of intergenerational relationships in families.
Zeitschrift für Familienforschung /
Journal of Family Research
The Zeitschrift für Familienforschung/Journal of Family Research is published three times a year (i.e. in April, September and December of each year). In 2015, a special issue in book format on “Family Dynamics after Separation. A Life Course Perspective on Post-Divorce Families” was published. It was edited by Ulrike Zartler, Valerie Heinz-Martin and Oliver Arránz Becker.
All papers published in the Journal have been peer-reviewed. The papers are written either in German or English, with abstracts in both languages. The Journal is referred in the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). For additional information which is also available in English, please visit the Journal’s website at www.zeitschrift-fuer-familienforschung.de