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Businesses, buddies and babies: social ties and fertility at work

We examine the influence that co-workers’ have on each other’s fertility decisions. Using linked employer employee panel data for Sweden we show that female individual fertility increases if a co-worker recently had a child. The timing of births among co-workers of the same sex, educational level and co workers who are close in age is even more influential. Consistent with models of social learning we find that the peer effect for first time mothers is similar irrespective of the birth order of the co-worker’s child, while for higher order births within-parity peer effects are strong but cross-parity peer effects are entirely absent. A causal interpretation of our estimates is strengthened by several falsification tests showing that neither unobserved common shocks at the workplace level, nor sorting of workers between workplaces are likely to explain the observed peer effect. We also provide evidence suggesting that peers not only affect timing of births but potentially also completed fertility, and that fertility peer influences spills over across multiple networks. Our results forward the understandings of how individual fertility timing decisions are made and suggest that social interactions could be an important factor behind the strong inter-temporal fluctuations in total fertility rates observed in many countries.

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Paper provided by IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy in its series Working Paper Series with number 2010:9.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: 30 Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2010_009
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  1. FFF1Gunnar NNN1Andersson, 2004. "Childbearing Developments in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden from the 1970s to the 1990s: A Comparison," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(7), pages 155-176, April.
  2. Anna Aizer & Janet Currie, 2002. "Networks or Neighborhoods? Correlations in the Use of Publicly-Funded Maternity Care in California," NBER Working Papers 9209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Imran Rasul & Iwan Barankay & Orana Bandiera, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Albrecht, J & Edin, P-A & Sundstrom, M & Vroman, S-B, 1996. "Career Interruptions and Subsequent Earning : A Reexamination Using Swedish Data," Papers 1996-23, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  5. Del Bono, Emilia & Weber, Andrea Maria & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2008. "Clash of Career and Family - Fertility Decisions after Job Displacement," Ruhr Economic Papers 39, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI), Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
  6. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Hesselius, Patrik & Johansson, Per & Nilsson, Peter, 2009. "Sick of your colleagues' absence?," Working Paper Series 2009:2, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  8. Sergio Currarini & Paolo Pin & Matthew O. Jackson, 2007. "An Economic Model of Friendship: Homophily, Minorities and Segregation," Working Papers 2007_20, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  9. repec:rwi:repape:0039 is not listed on IDEAS
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