Social Interactions and Fertility in Developing Countries

Isabel Gunther, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich
Sebastian Linnemayr, Harvard University
David E. Bloom, Harvard University
David Canning, Harvard University

There is strong evidence that, in addition to individual and household characteristics, social interactions are important in determining fertility rates. Social interactions can lead to a multiplier effect where an individual’s ideas and fertility choice, can affect the fertility decisions of others. We merge all existing Demographic and Health Surveys to investigate the factors that influence both individual and average group fertility. We find that in the early phase of the fertility transition the impact of a woman’s education and experience of child death, on her group’s average fertility are more than three times as large as their direct effect on her own fertility decision.

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Presented in Session 131: Comparative Perspectives on Sexuality, Family Planning and Fertility