Horizontal versus Vertical Transmission of Fertility Preferences in the U.S. From 1910 to 1970

Andrea Di Miceli, University of California, Los Angeles

I study the cultural-transmission of fertility preferences among second generation immigrant women observed in U.S. Censuses from 1910 to 1970. Using a source documenting the variation in fertility in Europe before and after the first demographic transition, I unpack the influence of parents (measured by source-country fertility at the time of departure from Europe) versus peers’ influence (measured by fertility of the same-age cohorts living in the source country and transmitted by same-age recent immigrants). I find that the transmission mechanism is affected by the number of first generation immigrant peers living in the same MSA. The ``vertical'' channel is stronger in places where there are few newly arrived foreign born immigrant couples from the same source countries. Fertility choices of second generation women are strongly correlated with marital fertility choices measured over peer cohorts in the source countries whenever they live in MSAs densely populated by recently arrived immigrants.

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Presented in Session 28: Fertility in the Demographic Transition