Neighbors, Fertility and Endogenous Preferences

Solveig Argeseanu, University of Pennsylvania
Christopher R. Cunningham, Syracuse University

This study explores whether women's fertility is responsive to the observed fertility of their immediate neighbors. We use a detailed micro sample from rural South Africa, including two types of geographic information. First, we identify in which of the 25 community each woman lives and use lagged community fertility as an explanatory variable on a woman's own childbearing. Secondly, we use GIS information to proxy for social connectedness, expecting that the fertility experiences of women living closer to each other have a greater influence than women living further away. We show that the total fertility rate in the study area, which is currently about 2.5, is the aggregate of a wide range of community fertility rates. Preliminary findings also suggest that a woman's own likelihood of pregnancy is positively though modestly related to lagged community fertility, suggesting a role for social networks in fertility choice.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health and Mortality