Intra-family exchange and Europe’s low fertility

Robert G. White, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Laura Bernardi, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and Université de Lausanne

Correlated fertility outcomes among family members has been attributed to the effects of parents’ behaviors and common family characteristics. This paper examines the importance of resource exchanges among family members fertility decline in Europe. A new dataset of kinships collected in eight European countries is analyzed to evaluate intra-family influences among extended kin. We first show that individual completed fertility is significantly correlated within kinships. We then estimate multilevel models of completed fertility to account for the variance in individual fertility across kinships. Childcare exchanges have modest positive associations with completed fertility. By contrast, the intensity of aggregate exchanges of labor among kin members is negatively associated with completed fertility. Additional evidence suggests that aggregate exchange intensity also contributed to fertility decline between 1947 and 2007. These results suggest that family influences on individual fertility may partly originate with intra-family exchanges and the broader social structure of kinship.

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Presented in Session 23: Intergenerational transmission of resources and reproductive trajectories (1)