A young woman whose high school friends have had a baby is more than likely to have a baby, too, according to a new study.
The study looks at high school friends because later friendships are more than likely formed based on future family plans or common family orientations, says Nicoletta Balbo, a researcher at the Carlo F. Dondena Center for Research on Social Dynamics at Bocconi University in Italy.
The research focused on 1,170 women, of whom 820 became parents during the study period. Researchers found that after one of the women in each friendship pair gave birth, the likelihood that her friend would have her first baby went up for about two years and then declined.
Researchers cite social influence, social learning, and exposure to young children as possible mechanisms by which a friend may influence another friend to have a child.