Kinderen krijgen is besmettelijk eenmaal afgestudeerd

Een nieuw onderzoek stelt dat het besmettelijk is om kinderen te krijgen. Ze keken hiervoor naar (vrouwelijke) jongvolwassenen die bevriende waren in het voortgezet onderwijs. Een van de onderzoekers, Nicoletta Balbo, stelt:

“The study shows the contagion is particularly strong within a short window of time: it increases immediately after a high school friend gives birth, reaches a peak about two years later, and then decreases, becoming negligible in the long-run. Overall, this research demonstrates that fertility decisions are not only influenced by individual characteristics and preferences, but also by the social network in which individuals are embedded. In addition, it shows that high school friends impact our lives well after graduation.”

Belangrijk om te noteren: het onderzoek maakte enkel gebruik van Amerikaanse data. Balbo ziet 3 mogelijke verklaring:  “First, people compare themselves to their friends. Being surrounded by friends who are new parents makes people feel pressure to have kids as well. Second, friends are an important learning source. Becoming a parent is a radical change. By observing their friends, people learn how to fulfill this new role. Lastly, having children at the same time as friends may bring about many advantages — friends can share the childbearing experience and thus reduce the stresses associated with pregnancy and childrearing. It’s also easier for people to remain friends when they are experiencing parenthood at the same time.”

Abstract van het onderzoek:

By integrating insights from economic and sociological theories, this article investigates whether and through which mechanisms friends’ fertility behavior affects an individual’s transition to parenthood. By exploiting the survey design of the Add Health data, our strategy allows us to properly identify interaction effects and distinguish them from selection and contextual effects. We use a series of discrete-time event history models with random effects at the dyadic level. Results show that, net of confounding effects, a friend’s childbearing increases an individual’s risk of becoming a parent. We find a short-term, curvilinear effect: an individual’s risk of childbearing starts increasing after a friend’s childbearing, reaches its
peak approximately two years later, and then decreases.

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