Differential fertility can be attributed to economic and cultural factors, but the family also plays an important role. Fertility behavior may be transmitted from parents to children through heritable dispositions or via socialization. Previous research has shown, however, that the expression of genetic effects depends on the interplay with the environment. In this article we take a long-term view and examine how the different mechanisms shifted over time and across social and local contexts on the basis of a large-scale database containing 100 thousand sibling pairs born between 1810 and 1870 in the Dutch province of Zeeland, a society undergoing demographic transition and industrialization. Corroborating earlier research, we find a significant increase in the expression of heritabilities and a fading of social influence for women born after the 1840s, who started their reproductive careers during the historical fertility decline in this region. Our study points out that the ‘social control’ of fertility was particularly reduced for women born in towns, women originating from the urban or rural laboring classes, and women from communities with a relatively liberal religious climate. Our findings are in line with research emphasizing the important role played by women in decision-making processes around childbearing, and could indicate the conditions that enhanced women's position in household bargaining during the historical fertility decline.
|Tijdschrift||The History of the Family. An International Quarterly|
|Nummer van het tijdschrift||2|
|Status||Published - 27-jun.-2013|