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Social Change, the Social Organization of Families, and Fertility Limitation1

University of Michigan

The social organization of the family is a key link between macrolevel social change and individual‐level childbearing behavior. The family mode of organization framework and life course perspective are used to develop hypotheses about these links. To test those hypotheses, the analysis uses a combination of life history and neighborhood history measures designed explicitly for this purpose. Results from fully dynamic multilevel hazard models demonstrate both childhood and adult community contexts shape childbearing in independent ways. The results implicate a variety of specific mechanisms linking social change to fertility behavior: cost‐benefit analysis, ideational diffusion, and long‐term personality development. The results also show contextual characteristics at multiple points in the life course may each exert independent effects on individual outcomes.