Volume 36 - Article 62 | Pages 1889–1916  

The timing of parenthood and its effect on social contact and support

By Jesper Rözer, Anne-Rigt Poortman, Gerald Mollenhorst


Objective: The objective of this study is to investigate how the timing of parenthood affects social contacts and support.

Methods: Fixed effects models on 12 waves of the Swiss Household Panel (1999−2010) are used to analyse how social relationships with relatives, friends, and neighbours change after people have children and how these changes depend on the timing of parenthood.

Results: The models show that parenthood increases contact with neighbours and decreases contact with friends. However, there are differences based on whether parenthood is early, on time, or late, and based on gender. The earlier men and women have children, the harder it is to keep in contact with friends and to establish contact with neighbours. Later in life the differences between early, ‘on-time’, and late parents tend to decline, except for contact with friends, for fathers.

Conclusions: We conclude that the timing of parenthood has a substantial impact on how people’s social networks change, especially shortly after they become parents.

Contribution: With this study, we show that the timing of parenthood moderates people’s network changes after they become parents.

Author's Affiliation

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