From Mothers to Daughters: Intergenerational Transmission of Fertility Norms

Laura Bernardi, Université de Lausanne

Social scientists increasingly turn to intergenerational models to explain continuity and change in family and fertility patterns. Normative beliefs are important determinants of fertility. This paper deals with the transmission of normative beliefs about childbearing choices. Norms are learnt and internalized throughout the life course: if primary socialization within the family and role modeling are important mechanisms of norm transmission, interaction with family members in adult life may also contribute to norms transmission. The paper focuses on the ways in which mothers and daughters make sense of normative beliefs about childbearing. I draw on set of semi-structured interviews with childless women in reproductive ages and their mothers, collected in Italy between 2004 and 2006. I provide micro-level descriptive analyses of normative beliefs about childbearing in mother-daughter dyads. Linking these descriptive analyses to the biography of specific dyads, I identify and explain continuities and discontinuities in normative transmission.

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Presented in Session 171: Generational Perspectives on Fertility