The Fertility of Immigrants from Low Fertility Settings: Adaptation in the tempo and quantum of childbearing?

Immigrant women who have lived longer in a destination after migration often have relatively low levels of fertility, which is sometimes taken as evidence of the adaptation of behavior. This evidence is almost exclusively based on studies of immigrants from high-fertility settings, while the fertility of immigrants from low-fertility settings has been largely overlooked. Research has also rarely studied the fertility of immigrants who migrated as children, despite the methodological advantages of applying such an approach. This study focuses on women who grew up in Sweden with a migration background from low-fertility origins. We expect that Sweden’s welfare regime makes it easier for women to combine childbearing and employment, regardless of migration background, thereby facilitating an adaptation of fertility behavior towards that prevailing in Sweden. We find evidence of adaptation in terms of birth timing, for at least half of the country-origin groups that we study, but very little evidence of adaptation in terms of completed fertility. Further, we find that the completed fertility of second-generation women is often less similar to the native-Swedish pattern than that of childhood immigrants. This is evidence against the notion of ‘straight-line’ adaptation for the children of immigrants who are born in Sweden.