Volume 34 - Article 23 | Pages 657–688  

Types of social networks and the transition to parenthood

By Daniel Lois


Background: A growing body of literature acknowledges the importance of social interaction and ideational factors for generative behavior. Building on this research, the present study identifies specific types of social network and gauges their value for predicting fertility behavior.

Methods: Based on data from the German Family Panel (N = 3,104 respondents aged 20 to 42), four types of ego-centric social networks were identified using cluster analyses. Clusters were used to prospectively predict the transition to parenthood using a discrete-time event history analysis.

Results: In the event history analyses, the highest propensity to start a family was found for ‘family-centered’ social networks, which were characterized primarily by a high share of persons with young children, a high amount of network support in case of parenthood, and a high proportion of strong ties to members of the nuclear family. By contrast, respondents who were embedded in ‘family-remote’ networks had the lowest transition rate to parenthood. Family-remote networks were characterized by a high share of friends and acquaintances, a high proportion of weak ties, and a low amount of social support and social pressure. Regarding selection effects, a comparison of cluster affiliation over time does not consistently confirm that persons who start a family select themselves into ‘fertility-promoting’ network types. In sum, the results enhance our understanding of how mechanisms of social influence and structural features of ego-centric social networks are interlinked.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Parental status homogeneity in social networks: The role of homophilous tie selection in Germany
Volume 48 - Article 2

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

Using Respondent-Driven Sampling to measure abortion safety in restrictive contexts: Results from Kaya (Burkina Faso) and Nairobi (Kenya)
Volume 50 - Article 47    | Keywords: induced abortion, respondents-driven samples, social networks, sub-Saharan Africa

Parental status homogeneity in social networks: The role of homophilous tie selection in Germany
Volume 48 - Article 2    | Keywords: fertility, homophily, network selection, social contagion, social interaction, social networks

Stable cohabitational unions increase quality of life: Retrospective analysis of partnership histories also reveals gender differences
Volume 40 - Article 24    | Keywords: cluster analysis, cohabitation, depression, life satisfaction, living apart together (LAT), marriage, partnership, partnership trajectories, quality of life, sequence analysis

Blood is thicker than bloodshed: A genealogical approach to reconstruct populations after armed conflicts
Volume 40 - Article 23    | Keywords: data collection, family, genealogies, methodology, mortality, social networks, war

Setting the census household into its urban context: Visualizations from 19th-century Montreal
Volume 36 - Article 46    | Keywords: census family, historical geographic information system (HGIS), kinship, kinship in cities, neighboring, social networks, spatial demography, transmission of property

Cited References: 65

Download to Citation Manager


Google Scholar

Article ID