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Popul Stud (Camb). 2002 Nov;56(3):235-48.

The intergenerational transmission of fertility in contemporary Denmark: the effects of number of siblings (full and half), birth order, and whether male or female.

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  • 1Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics, UK. m.murphy@lse.ac.uk


Using the Danish Fertility Database, we investigate intergenerational fertility transmission, including the relationship between the number of children born to those aged 25 and 26 years in 1994 and the number of their full sibs and half-sibs. We find that the fertility behaviour of parents and their children is positively correlated, and that half-sibs and full sibs have broadly similar effects. We do not find, in this complete national population, the strong birth order effects reported in some earlier studies. Nor do we find evidence of a weakening of intergenerational fertility transmission over time, perhaps because the greater flexibility of lifestyles in this post-transitional phase provides the extended social space within which intergenerational continuities can manifest themselves. We show that members of large families are over-represented in subsequent generations - that they have far more kin than those from smaller families - and that intergenerational continuities in fertility behaviour play a substantial role in keeping fertility higher than it would be in the absence of such transmission.

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