Volume 39 - Article 10 | Pages 315–336  

The influence of the number of siblings on expected family size in a cohort of young adults in Germany

By Petra Buhr, Katharina Lutz, Timo Peter


Background: Previous research has shown that fertility is influenced by the family of origin. However, there is only little evidence about intergenerational transmission of fertility expectations in younger birth cohorts.

Objective: We investigate if there is a positive relationship between the number of full siblings and expected family size in a young birth cohort in Germany and whether this association can be explained by transmission of socioeconomic status.

Methods: We use the fifth wave of the German Family Panel (birth cohort 1991–1993) and estimate multinomial logistic regression models.

Results: We find a positive effect of the number of full siblings on expected family size that remains stable when controlling for the socioeconomic status of the parents. The effect is smaller on an expected family size of two children compared to other parities which is compatible with the prevailing two-child norm in Germany. Contrary to our expectations there is no effect of the number of siblings on being uncertain about having children.

Conclusions: The family of origin influences fertility expectations in a cohort born in the 1990s in Germany, which cannot be explained by transmission of socioeconomic status. Although it is theoretically plausible, there is no final proof that the relationship is instead due to transmission of family values, as the number of siblings is only a proxy variable for the family values of the parents.

Contribution: We verify the results of previous studies for a cohort born in the 1990s in Germany, account for parity differences, and include uncertainty in fertility expectations.

Author's Affiliation

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

The big decline: Lowest-low fertility in Uruguay (2016–2021)
Volume 50 - Article 16    | Keywords: adolescent fertility, birth order, fertility, Latin America, ultra-low fertility, Uruguay

Cohort fertility of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union
Volume 50 - Article 13    | Keywords: age at first birth, assimilation, cohort analysis, fertility, immigration, parity, religiosity

Fertility decline, changes in age structure, and the potential for demographic dividends: A global analysis
Volume 50 - Article 9    | Keywords: age structure, demographic dividend, demographic transition, fertility, migration, population momentum, working-age population

Marital plans and partnership transitions among German opposite-sex couples: Couple agreement and gender differences
Volume 49 - Article 39    | Keywords: gender roles, German Family Panel pairfam (Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics), marital intentions, relationship dissolution, transition to marriage

Analyzing hyperstable population models
Volume 49 - Article 37    | Keywords: birth trajectory, cohort analysis, cyclical populations, dynamic population model, fertility, hyperstable, period