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World media attention for publication Nicola Barban and (ex ICS) Nicoletta Balbo

10 June 2014

Having children is contagious among high school friends during early adulthood

A new study published in the  June issue of the American Sociological Review by Nicoletta Balbo (Bocconi University, Italy) and Nicola Barban (Department of Sociology, RUG and ICS) shows that getting pregnant may be contagious among long-time friends -- when one woman has a baby, her former high school classmates are more likely to intentionally get pregnant within the next two years. The study authors examined surveys of just over 1,700 U.S. women who were followed by researchers from their high school years in the 1990s to 2008 or 2009, when they were between 26 and 33 years old. 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.

Balbo N. & N. Barban (2014). “Does Fertility Behavior Spread among Friends?,” American Sociological Review June 2014 vol. 79 no. 3 412-431

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