"The study shows the contagion is particularly strong within a short window of time."
It starts slowly. A baby shows up on your Facebook feed. Your friends, like you, are getting older, settling down and starting families. Pretty soon, your entire newsfeed is flooded with tiny children covered in what was supposed to be their first experience with solid food, birthday parties, and all the small milestones of a child's development ("his first wink!").
It's an epidemic of cute, in which every one of your old high school friends seems to be having children around the same time. And new research says you're not crazy to think so.
Pregnancy is contagious. That's the conclusion of a study just published in the American Sociological Review; the decision to have a child is influenced by social networks stretching back to high school. "A friend's childbearing positively influences an individual's risk of becoming a parent," the study concludes, with a phrasing reminiscent of "friends don't let friends do drugs."
Furthermore, "an individual's risk of childbearing starts increasing after a friend's childbearing," reaching "a peak around two years later." Coauthor Nicoletta Balbo summed those results up like this in a press release: "The study shows the contagion is particularly strong within a short window of time." Like the flu.