It has been discussed in the literature that the presence of kin, particularly the presence of a women’s own mother or her mother in law, may have fertility effects. We aimed to examine the effects of the presence of a woman’s own or her husband’s mother in the household on a woman’s fertility in terms of number of children on a broad basis by analysing census data of over two million married women aged between 15 and 34 years from 14 countries worldwide. We find that with the exception of Iraq, across all countries, the majority of women live only with their spouse in the household. We further find that the presence of any mother in the household is invariably associated with a significantly lower number of children compared to women living only with their spouse. In addition, in most countries, a woman’s number of children is lower if she lives with her own mother as compared to her husband’s mother in the household. Number of children is nonlinearly associated with woman’s age, the presence of any mother being related with an earlier start of childbearing but a shallower increase in number of children. We speculate that the presence of a mother in the household may slow down woman’s reproduction, but also discuss alternative explanations.
Huber, S., Zahourek, P., & Fieder, M. (2017). Living with own or husband’s mother in the household is associated with lower number of children: A cross-cultural analysis. Royal Society Open Science, 4(10). https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.170544