Markus Kotte, Volker Ludwig
Intergenerational transmission of fertility intentions and behaviour in Germany: the role of contagion

Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 2011, 2012: 9, pp. 207-226
ISSN: 1728-4414

This study investigates whether the fertility behaviour of significant others, in particular of one’s parents and siblings, affects individuals’ own fertility intentions and behaviour. Using the data of three cohorts of young Germans, we test the hypothesis that ‘contagion’ by siblings with young children explains the transmission of fertility patterns across generations. In theory, transmission might be explained by contagion, or transmission and contagion might operate independently of each other. The results show strong evidence for the transmission of fertility intentions and behaviour from parents to their offspring. Evidence for contagion by siblings is weak and contagious effects therefore do not explain transmission.