Cultural Inheritance and Fertility Outcomes: An Analysis from Evolutionary and Interdisciplinary Perspectives Academic Article uri icon


  • Taking evolutionary and interdisciplinary perspectives, this study views the reproductive result as an evolutionary outcome that may be affected by parental characteristics through cultural inheritance. We hypothesize that inheriting more cultural traits from parents leads to a greater resemblance between fertility outcomes of the offspring and their parents. In societies that experience a demographic transition, a greater resemblance can be indicated by a higher level of fertility of the offspring and a sooner transition from union formation to childbearing. We operationalize inheriting cultural traits from parents as reporting a religious affiliation the same as those of their parents. Through analyzing data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) Cycle 6, our results show that inheriting the same religious traits from parents does have an effect on ones fertility. In particular, women who reported the same religious affiliations as those of their parents reported a greater number of children. They tend to have births inside, rather than outside, of marriage. Inside marriage, they are also more likely to give births sooner, rather than later. These findings support our hypotheses and help to build a theoretical framework that explains the changes in fertility outcomes from an interdisciplinary perspective.

published proceedings

  • International Journal of Population Research

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, L. i., Poston, D. L., Alvard, M. S., & Cherry, C.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Li||Poston, Dudley L||Alvard, Michael S||Cherry, Christopher

publication date

  • January 2013