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Adaptation from below? Migrants from low-fertility countries in a high-fertility setting

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posted on 02.05.2019, 17:31 by Marianne Tønnesen, Eleonora Mussino
Abstract: Immigrant women’s fertility often changes with their duration of stay, but we do not know why. Several hypotheses have been put forward, such as the adaptation hypothesis and the hypothesis on interrelation of events. When immigrants are from high-fertility countries, both these hypotheses predict a falling fertility by duration of stay. However, when women from low-fertility countries move to countries with higher fertility, the two hypotheses predict opposite fertility trajectories. To distinguish between the two effects, we therefore explore the fertility patterns among women from low-fertility countries who have moved to a country with higher fertility. Register data on immigrant women from Poland, Lithuania and Germany and their reason for staying in Norway are used to calculate fertility rates by duration of stay, and to explore differences between family migrants and women who migrate for other reasons. Even among immigrants from low-fertility countries, and particularly among those who migrated for family reasons, fertility is highest right after migration – supporting the hypothesis on interrelated events. For immigrant women who are not registered as family migrants, fertility rates increase until 4-5 years after migration, before they decline. Using data on immigrant women from low-fertility countries in a high-fertility setting, we shed light on mechanisms that cannot so easily be disentangled among immigrant women from high-fertility countries.


Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare (FORTE), grant number 2018-00310

Swedish Initiative for Research on Microdata in Social Science and Medical Sciences (SIMSAM), grant 340-2013-5164




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