Volume 35 - Article 21 | Pages 581–616  

Are daughters’ childbearing intentions related to their mothers’ socio-economic status?

By Maria Rita Testa, Valeria Bordone, Beata Osiewalska, Vegard Skirbekk

Abstract

Background: Unlike actual fertility, fertility intentions are often found to be positively correlated with education. The literature explaining this paradox is scarce.

Objective: We aim to fill the gap in the existing scientific literature by searching for the main factors that influence highly educated women to plan a larger family size.

Methods: Using the first wave of the Generations and Gender Survey for four countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, and Norway), we analyse the relationship between mother’s socio-economic status and daughter’s fertility intentions, controlling for daughter’s socio-economic status and sibship size. Zero-inflated Poisson regression models are employed to estimate the predictors of women’s additionally intended number of children.

Results: We find that the effect of family of origin is exerted mainly through sibship size among childless daughters: Daughters with more siblings intend to have more children. After the transition to parenthood, the effect of family of origin is exerted mainly through the mother’s level of education: Daughters with highly educated mothers intend to have more children.

Conclusions: The empirical results suggest that the positive link between births intentions and level of education might not merely be an artefact generated by the design of cross-sectional surveys but the outcome of a better socio-economic status that allows forming positive reproductive plans.

Contribution: The positive role of mother’s socio-economic status on daughter’s fertility decision-making offers a valuable interpretation of the positive link between education and fertility intentions which goes beyond the alternative explanations referring to self-selection, partner effect, or time squeeze, and needs to be confirmed by further research.

Author's Affiliation

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