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William Axinn photo

Intergenerational Influences on Family Formation in a Changing Social Context

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   William Axinn, Jennifer S. Barber, Arland Thornton

This is a proposal to study the influence of mothers and fathers on the family formation experiences of young adults. The project will focus on five main aspects of young adult family formation: entrance into first marriage; rates of contraceptive use, sterilization, and rates of child birth, including both first births and progression to higher parity. Our purpose is to investigate the ways in which central aspects of the parental family - socioeconomic achievements and aspirations; family attitudes and behavior; religious beliefs and behavior; and the organization of social activities in the parental home - influence family formation. In addition to investigating the overall influence of the parental family, we will examine individual effects of fathers and mothers, thereby giving us more detailed insight into specific intergenerational dynamics. A second specific aim is to create and investigate an intergenerational model of the influence of community context on family and demographic behavior. We will examine this model by investigating the overall influence of context on young adult behavior, the direct effects on young adults after parental factors are added, and the indirect effects through the behavior and attitudes of the parents. As part of this contextual-intergenerational model we will also examine the ways in which the influence of parents depends on the context in which families live. Our investigation of this contextual-intergenerational model of family formation will take advantage of a longitudinal data resource in Nepal that is especially powerful for the purposes of this study. The data set contains a particularly rich body of contextual measures, detailed personal interviews with both mothers and fathers, and a monthly record of children’s family formation behaviors spanning nine years. With this wealth of information from and about mothers, fathers, and children, we have the measures necessary to significantly advance the scientific understanding of intergenerational and contextual influences on family formation. These intergenerational influences are particularly significant because they shape virtually every domain of social life, and ultimately influence both family and child health and wellbeing. The results will provide empirical answers to key unanswered theoretical questions and inform both regional and US foreign policies on population growth. More effective policies to curb population growth in South Asia are considered a high priority for both US and regional poverty alleviation programs and international security.

Funding Period: 04/20/2007 to 03/31/2013

Countries of Focus: Nepal, USA

Related Holdings, ICPSR Study #34404

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