The influence of family and friends on the realization of fertility intentions

Nicoletta Balbo, University of Groningen
Melinda Mills, University of Groningen

This paper investigates the impact of personal networks for men and women in the realization of fertility intentions. We aim to examine to what extent and how fast people realize their fertility intentions. In doing so, we specifically look at the role of an individual’s web of informal relationships with relatives and peers, and we focus on the influence of resources bound to personal networks. Building on the fertility and social capital literature, we hypothesize two possible alternative effects of personal network on the timing of the fertility outcome. On the one hand, people who have stronger and supportive relationships with family and friends may feel more secure and therefore are more likely to have a child soon. On the other hand, people who miss social contacts might realize their fertility intentions sooner, in order to fill up the lack of social ties and invest in their network. We engage in an event history analysis, using the two waves of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NKPS), data that provide us with information about social contacts, quantity and quality of the relationships with kin and friends and informal support. We expect that when the extended family (e.g., family of origin) is big, and relationships with family members are strong and supportive, people realize their fertility intentions sooner, thank to the availability of greater support. Moreover, we expect that the higher the parity of the couple (i.e., the number of already born children) the more important the role of the network support is in the realization of fertility intentions.

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Presented in Session 65: Family networks and fertility