The impact of kin on female fertility: a systematic review
Rebecca Sear, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Paul Mathews, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Fertility decline is still a puzzle. A recent body of work has suggested that changes in kin networks may help explain changing reproductive behaviour. As countries modernise, kin networks break down and association with non-relatives becomes more common. This reduces both the practical support available to mothers in raising children, and affects reproductive norms. This paper presents the results of a systematic review of all studies which have investigated the impact of kin on female reproductive behaviour: including age at first birth, reproductive rate, total fertility and fertility preferences. A previous review demonstrated that kin, particularly maternal kin, clearly have a beneficial impact on one aspect of female fitness: the survival of her children. The literature on fertility outcomes supports the idea that kin are important, but suggests that different categories of kin may be significant in affecting female fertility.