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Lower Fertility Rates, Smaller Family Sizes, and Social Networks

  • 2010-2012
  • Project
Gondal, Neha, Rutgers University

Study: “Lower Fertility Rates, Smaller Family Sizes, and Social Networks: A Cross-Cultural Investigation”
PI(s): Gondal, Neha
Affiliation(s): Rutgers University
Institutional Partner(s): IIE Fellow
Project Dates:
Start: 2010
End: 2012
Data Source(s): Cross-Sectional Data
Methods: Binary Logistic Regression and Network Simulation-Based Methodology
Geographic Location(s): Cross-Country (25 countries)

While research has delved into many of the socioeconomic and demographic consequences of falling fertility rates, relatively little is known about its implications on the structures and meanings of relationships between people. A fundamental structural effect of having fewer siblings is that individuals have a smaller pool of available close kin, which alters with whom they can construct support networks. This project investigates if individuals with fewer siblings experience, negotiate, and construct meanings of relationships differently from those with larger families. In the midst of widespread fertility decline, the research examines the relationship between sibling number and support network composition analyzing data from 25 countries. Results show that this compositional adjustment in relationship occurs in systematic ways. Compared to those with three or more siblings, adults with 0-2 siblings (separate categories) are more likely to feel more entitled to seek support from their spouses, parents, or even friends and neighbors, but are considerably less likely to draw support from their siblings. The findings have implications with an aging population and familial caregiving, state-sponsored institutional support, and changing cultural norms about relationships.

Research Outputs:
Gondal, Neha. (2012). Who “Fills in” for Siblings and How? A Multilevel Analysis of Personal Network Composition and Its Relationship to Sibling Size. Sociological Forum, 27(3), 732–755. DOI: 10.1111/j.1573-7861.2012.01343.x

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