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From Mothers to Daughters : Intergenerational Transmission of Family Norms
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The Social Meaning of Children and Fertility Change in Europe
Ellingsæter A.-L., Jensen A.-M., Lie M.
Starting from the mid-1960s, family and fertility patterns in Europe underwent fundamental changes. Social scientists have increasingly turned to intergenerational models to explain such changes. This paper deals with one important intergenerational dimension of fertility, namely the transmission of normative beliefs about childbearing choices. Normative beliefs are important determinants of fertility behavior. While norms are learnt and internalized throughout the life course, primary socialization of children within the family and role modeling are important mechanism to ensure norm transmission. Interaction with family members in adult life may reinforce the effects of early socialization and role modeling. The paper focuses on the ways in which mothers and daughters make sense of normative beliefs about childbearing. I draw on set of semi-structured interviews with childless women in reproductive ages and their mothers, collected in Italy between 2004 and 2006. First, I provide a micro-level descriptive analysis of normative beliefs about childbearing norms in mother-daughter dyads. Second, linking these descriptive analyses to the biography of specific dyads, I identify patterns of continuity and discontinuity in the social meaning of children and their fertility outcomes.
fertility, family change, generations, norms, Italy
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