Does Fertility Behavior Spread among Friends?

Nicoletta Balbo, University of Groningen
Nicola Barban, University of Groningen

This paper investigates how social interactions among friends shape fertility. We specifically examine whether and how friends’ fertility behavior affects an individual’s transition to parenthood. By integrating insights from economic and sociological theories, we elaborate on the mechanisms via which interactions among friends might affect an individual’s risk of becoming a parent. By exploiting the survey design of the Add Health data, we follow a strategy that allows us to properly identify interaction effects and distinguish them from selection and contextual effects. We engage in a series of discrete time event history models with random effect at the dyadic level. Results show that, net of confounding effects, a friend’s childbearing increases an individual’s risk of becoming a parent. We find a short-term, curvilinear effect: an individual’s risk of childbearing starts increasing after a friend’s childbearing, it reaches its peak around two years later, and then decreases.

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Presented in Session 117: Fertility Timing