BookmarkBookmarkTick

How Your Friends Influence When You Start Family Planning

When it comes to wanting to have a baby, your friends might speak as loud as your biological clock.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
August 3, 2018
pregnant woman laughing with her friends otuside
Image: Thinkstock

“Everyone’s doing it!” may not have been a valid excuse for hopping on trends in high school, but it seems to be enough to get women to think about babies post-graduation.

A new study published in the American Sociological Review found that women are more likely to have a baby after finding out their friends from high school are mothers, a trend researchers are calling “childhood contagion.” And no, this isn’t a pregnancy pact situation; the average age of a first-time mom in the study was 27.

“This research demonstrates that fertility decisions are not only influenced by individual characteristics and preferences, but also by the social network in which individuals are embedded,” says Nicoletta Balbo, a co-author of the study.

The data shows that once your friend has been a parent for a year, your likelihood of pregnancy nearly doubles. This “friend effect” only lasts for about three years, but that’s much longer than the one-year effect women seem to experience from siblings.

We’re not saying peer pressure should determine your reproductive choices, but the findings do make sense. You compare yourself with friends, learn from them, and share experiences with them. And when your best friend from calculus shows up to the ten year reunion with a bubbly, adorable 6-month-old, you start pining for one of your own.

“It’s also easier for people to remain friends when they are experiencing parenthood at the same time,” says Balbo.

The study is a testament to how much our high school friends can both affect us and stay with us.

Related Video
25 slides

The Best Movies to Watch While Pregnant

profile picture of Holly Pevzner
Holly Pevzner
Contributing Writer
black and white image of woman and doctor's hands looking at sonogram

US Birth Rates Hit Their Lowest Level in 35 Years, CDC Reports

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
05/21/2020
couple looking away over body of water

CDC: Birth Rates in the US Have Reached an All-Time Low

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
08/02/2019
woman in her third trimester of pregnancy

There’s Finally Science to Prove That Pregnant Women Need Their Personal Space

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
07/02/2019
mid-section of couple holding hands and walking

CDC: Birth Rates in the US Haven’t Been This Low in More Than Three Decades

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/15/2019
meghan markle in new york city for her baby shower

Meghan Markle's NYC Baby Shower Stirs Convincing Theories on the Royal Baby's Sex

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
02/21/2019
meghan markle's birth location is revealed

The Lindo Wing Is Reportedly Prepping for Meghan Markle's Delivery

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
02/01/2019
couple is forced to pack up their stuff and move after having a baby.

Landlord Forces Couple to Move Because They Had a Baby

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
01/29/2019
surprised baby's face

There Aren't Enough Babies Being Born in the US, CDC Says

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
01/10/2019
Article removed.