Intra-Family Exchange and Europe’s Low Fertility

Robert G. White, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Laura Bernardi, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and Université de Lausanne

Understanding the pathways to the emergence and persistence of low fertility in Europe remains a fundamental challenge. We examine the importance of changing patterns of resource exchanges among family members for both the timing of first births and cumulative fertility. We hypothesize that shifts in exchanges among family members of material support and labor play an important role in the postponement of fertility. We analyze a new data set of over 500 kinships collected in eight European countries and show that intra-family exchanges of wealth and child care are significantly related to both age at first birth and cumulative fertility. Employing both family and kinship fixed effects, we further show how family structure, distinguished by co-residency patterns and measures of proximity to near kin, has important independent effects on the postponement of childbirth.

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Presented in Session 36: Parents, Children and Sibling Linkages across Households