The intergenerational transmission of family-related behaviour: evidence from the NSFH
Aart C. Liefbroer, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
This paper studies the extent to which the timing of major events in young adult life, like leaving home, entry into a union, entry into marriage, and entry into parenthood are transmitted from parents to children. In addition, it is studied whether intergenerational transmission is as strong for sons as it is for daughters, whether mothers are more successful in transmitting their behavior than fathers, and whether the strength of intergenerational transmission diminishes across young adulthood. To study the intergenerational transmission of family-related behavior, data from the third wave of the National Survey of Families and Households, held in 2001 and 2002, are used. Event-history techniques are applied to test hypotheses about the strength of intergenerational transmission. The timing of all four events ¬–leaving home, entry into a co-residential union, marriage and first childbirth– is found to be transmitted from parents to children. If parents experienced these events at a relatively young age, their children are relatively likely to experience these events at a relatively young age as well. However, the strength of intergenerational transmission varies with the type of behaviour. It is clearly weaker for leaving home than for the three other demographic behaviours. The gender of parents and children does not seem to play a major role in the intergenerational transmission of these demographic behaviours. For all four behaviours, the impact of fathers and mothers was found to be equally strong. Likewise, the impact on sons and daughters did not vary for any of the four behaviours either. A final finding is that the strength of intergenerational transmission of these demographic behaviours weakens as children get older, with the exception of the transmission of age at leaving home.