Nonlinearities in the Intergenerational Transmission of Fertility

Poh Lin Tan, Duke University
S. Philip Morgan, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This paper departs from the existing literature on the intergenerational transmission of fertility, which has focused on the linear impact of an additional sibling on fertility. Instead, we investigate whether individuals from small (one-child) and large (more than three children) families are disproportionately likely to have small and large families themselves. Using association models and ordered logistic and logistic regression models, we find strong evidence for the reproduction of large families and more limited evidence for the reproduction of small families in the US. We show that our results are robust across subgroups with different marital status, educational levels, religions and political affiliations. Our results point to a polarization of fertility behavior within the population, which may be driven by a polarization of fertility preferences or social inequality limiting access to reproductive and economic resources.

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Presented in Session 171: Generational Perspectives on Fertility