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Soc Biol. 1999 Spring-Summer;46(1-2):122-45.

Is the relationship between fertility of parents and children really weak?

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1
Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics, United Kingdom.

Abstract

The relationship between fertility of parents and children has been designated as "weak" by most investigators. This paper reviews the evidence over the past century and argues that, even allowing for problems with available data sources, the relationship was probably close to zero for pre-transitional populations. However, over time, the relationship has tended to become more substantial and is now of a similar order of magnitude in developed countries as other widely used explanatory variables. Possible mechanisms for the observed relationship are discussed, especially the roles of socialization and inherited factors. The types of data used are compared to the scientific questions posed, and the limitations of the common comparison of married-mother/married-daughter pairs are considered. Finally, some evidence from recent large-scale surveys in Britain and the United States is presented to show changes over recent periods and the relative effects of sibship size of fathers and mothers.

PIP:

This paper examines the relationship between fertility of parents and children through a review of evidence for the past century and argues the implication that the relationship was close to zero for pretransitional populations. It was noted over time that the relationship has tended to become substantial, and a similar order of magnitude in developed countries was observed when used with explanatory variables. Several possible mechanisms have been observed in the relationship, particularly the roles of socialization and inherited factors. The data used in the study were then compared to the scientific questions, and the limitations of the common comparison of married-mother and married-daughter pairs were considered. The results of this study were in contrast to the traditional variables such as religion or urban/rural residence, where the effects appear to have declined or disappeared. In conclusion, evidence for recent large-scale reports in Britain and the US are shown to shift over the recent periods and the relative effects of sibship size of mothers and fathers.

PMID:
10842505
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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