Intergenerational transmission of reproductive behavior during the demographic transition

J Interdiscip Hist. 2012;42(4):543-69. doi: 10.1162/jinh_a_00304.


New evidence from the Utah Population Database (UPDP) reveals that at the onset of the fertility transition, reproductive behavior was transmitted across generations - between women and their mothers, as well as between women and their husbands' family of origin. Age at marriage, age at last birth, and the number of children ever born are positively correlated in the data, most strongly among first-born daughters and among cohorts born later in the fertility transition. Intergenerational ties, including the presence of mothers and mothers-in-law, influenced the hazard of progressing to a next birth. The findings suggest that the practice of parity-dependent marital fertility control and inter-birth spacing behavior derived, in part, from the previous generation and that the potential for mothers and mothers-in-law to help in the rearing of children encouraged higher marital fertility.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors*
  • Birth Intervals* / ethnology
  • Birth Intervals* / psychology
  • Data Collection / economics
  • Data Collection / history
  • Family / ethnology
  • Family / history
  • Family / psychology
  • Fertility*
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations* / ethnology
  • Population Dynamics* / history
  • Reproductive Behavior* / ethnology
  • Reproductive Behavior* / history
  • Reproductive Behavior* / physiology
  • Reproductive Behavior* / psychology
  • Statistics as Topic / economics
  • Statistics as Topic / education
  • Statistics as Topic / history
  • Utah / ethnology
  • Women / education
  • Women / history
  • Women / psychology