Table of Contents
International Journal of Population Research
Volume 2013, Article ID 340719, 10 pages
Research Article

Cultural Inheritance and Fertility Outcomes: An Analysis from Evolutionary and Interdisciplinary Perspectives

1Virginia Commonwealth University, Sociology Program, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Richmond, VA 23284, USA
2Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
3Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
4University of Wisconsin-Superior, Superior, WI 54880, USA

Received 28 May 2012; Accepted 23 November 2012

Academic Editor: Pranitha Maharaj

Copyright © 2013 Li Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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 one’s 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.