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

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Abstract

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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  • Hensvik, Lena & Nilsson, Peter, 2010. "Businesses, buddies and babies: social ties and fertility at work," Working Paper Series 2010:9, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2010_009
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    1. Emilia Del Bono & Andrea Weber & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2012. "Clash Of Career And Family: Fertility Decisions After Job Displacement," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 659-683, August.
    2. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962.
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    5. Aizer, Anna & Currie, Janet, 2004. "Networks or neighborhoods? Correlations in the use of publicly-funded maternity care in California," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2573-2585, December.
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    8. Gunnar Andersson, 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine V. L?ken & Magne Mogstad, 2014. "Peer Effects in Program Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2049-2074, July.
    2. Adamopoulou, Effrosyni, 2012. "Peer Effects in Young Adults' Marital Decisions," UC3M Working papers. Economics we1228, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    3. Effrosyni Adamopoulou & Ezgi Kaya, 2018. "Young Adults Living with their Parents and the Influence of Peers," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 80(3), pages 689-713, June.
    4. Ainhoa Aparicio-Fenoll & Veruska Oppedisano, 2016. "Should I stay or should I go? Sibling effects in household formation," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 1007-1027, December.
    5. Karin Monstad & Carol Propper & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Is teenage motherhood contagious? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/262, The Centre for Market and Public Organisation, University of Bristol, UK.
    6. Elisabeth Fevang & Simen Markussen & Knut Røed, 2014. "The Sick Pay Trap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 305-336.
    7. Johansson, Per & Karimi, Arizo & Nilsson, J Peter, 2014. "Gender differences in shirking: monitoring or social preferences? Evidence from a field experiment," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2014:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    8. Paul Mathews & Rebecca Sear, 2013. "Does the kin orientation of a British woman’s social network influence her entry into motherhood?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 28(11), pages 313-340.
    9. Pauline Rossi & Yun Xiao, 2020. "Spillovers in Childbearing Decisions and Fertility Transitions: Evidence from China," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-031/V, Tinbergen Institute.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Peer effects; social preferences; co-workers;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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