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Russian scientists will look into influence of social ties on number of children in family

March 31, 2016, 18:25 UTC+3
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MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. The researchers of St. Tikhon's Orthodox university for the humanities and National research university - Higher school of economics (the HSE) received a grant of the Institute for social-economic and political research on a project "Fertility and social networks: analyzing factors of a large family". - the Higher school of economics press center reported earlier this day.

"We are going to test the hypothesis that a family size depends on a specific environment: the intersection of friendship ties, parochial ties and social networks creates a social environment that attracts parents to create a big family." - says Ivan Pavlyutkin, one of the project's supervisors, dean of the Economic sociology department of the faculty for the social studies at the HSE.

Social influence on fertility

Human's social behavior can substantially depend on many external factors: economic development rate, family social benefits, housing policy, women employment rate, level of education, gender stereotypes and social pressure of relatives, friends, colleagues and age mates. All these factors can affect a marriage age, the desired number of children, birth calendar (the age of mother's "debut", a time between the birth of the first baby and the second one) and many other peculiarities of social behavior.

The decision to become a parent is very often prompted by the examples of relatives, friends and colleagues. Pavlyutkin and Maria Goleva, Ph.D. of sociology at Moscow higher school for social and economic studies, included the most prominent researches on social influence on fertility in their overview article published in a recent issue of the HSE journal "Economic sociology". A Norway-Austrian research of 2010, for instance, revealed that a woman's mother's debut comes a year after her sister or brother has become a parent. A German research of 2011 showed that a desired number of children also depends on surroundings' example.

Russian research

Russian researchers are now conducting their own empiric research, studying social capital and social support networks among Russian large-sized families. Our idea is to test the hypothesis about social influence on giving birth to a third and further babies, as it is a very important change for a family. "Collecting interviews with parents of big-sized families in Moscow, Archangelsk and Vladimir regions, we see typical stories about giving birth to more than two children that got along with relatives' failure to understand, attempts of doctors or even random people surrounding a mother of four or five children to dissuade her". - said Pavlyutkin.

The research supposes conducting profound interviews with parents having a big number of children and a survey of 1000 parents of such families based on the methods of social ties measurements. Only the families living in big cities (more that 250 thousand people in Russia and more that 100 thousand people in Moscow region) could take part in the research.

"That's curious enough, but today all we know about large sized families is related to their poverty, lack of activity and, finally, their troubles. Decision making is often grounded in this attitude to big families. This position, which is usually based on the results of modern researches, could at least be argued from the position of social networks and social capital research". - Pavlyutkin believes.

Besides, more profound comprehension of the nature of large sized families will help to develop efficient measures to aid and stimulate them.


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