Behavior Genetics

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 345–361 | Cite as

Multivariate Cholesky Models of Human Female Fertility Patterns in the NLSY

  • Joseph Lee RodgersEmail author
  • David E. Bard
  • Warren B. Miller
Original Paper


Substantial evidence now exists that variables measuring or correlated with human fertility outcomes have a heritable component. In this study, we define a series of age-sequenced fertility variables, and fit multivariate models to account for underlying shared genetic and environmental sources of variance. We make predictions based on a theory developed by Udry [(1996) Biosocial models of low-fertility societies. In: Casterline, JB, Lee RD, Foote KA (eds) Fertility in the United States: new patterns, new theories. The Population Council, New York] suggesting that biological/genetic motivations can be more easily realized and measured in settings in which fertility choices are available. Udry’s theory, along with principles from molecular genetics and certain tenets of life history theory, allow us to make specific predictions about biometrical patterns across age. Consistent with predictions, our results suggest that there are different sources of genetic influence on fertility variance at early compared to later ages, but that there is only one source of shared environmental influence that occurs at early ages. These patterns are suggestive of the types of gene–gene and gene–environment interactions for which we must account to better understand individual differences in fertility outcomes.


Fertility Fisher’s theorem FTNS Heritability Shared Environment Multivariate models Phenotypic plasticity Hox genes Life history theory 



This research was supported by NIH Grant #R01-HD43265 to the University of Oklahoma, Joe Rodgers, PI. The authors express their appreciation to Amber Johnson, who provided useful discussion and comments, to Will Beasley for computing support, to Michael Neale for technical support in using Mx, and to the editor and the anonymous reviewers for suggestions that substantially improved this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Lee Rodgers
    • 1
    Email author
  • David E. Bard
    • 2
  • Warren B. Miller
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics, Health Sciences CenterUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA
  3. 3.Transnational Family Research InstituteAptosUSA

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