Family formation of immigrant women in Germany

Nadja Milewski, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The number of people in Germany who are of foreign origin or who have immigrant parents is growing. Our study investigates the process of family formation among immigrant women from guest-worker countries. The main research questions are: Are first- and second- birth risks of immigrant women different from those of West Germans? If so, what is the extent to which fertility differences can be explained by immigrants’ selectivity, duration of stay in Germany, and compositional differences? Four hypotheses are discussed: The socialization hypothesis states that an individual follows the behavior and norms dominant during the childhood. The adaptation hypothesis argues that the current circumstances of living are more important in fertility-decision making. The disruption hypothesis assumes that the migration process and related difficulties influence fertility behavior. The selection hypothesis deals with the assumption that the immigration is the effect of fertility intentions and that unobserved factors are of importance. We use data from the German Socio-Economic Panel. We construct birth histories for about 1500 immigrant women from Italy, Spain, Greece, former Yugoslavia, and Turkey, compared to West German women, and apply event-history techniques to the analysis of first- and second-birth risks. Apart from standard variables, such as education and religious affiliation, we include migration specific variables such as time since migration, country of origin, and migrant generation. Our analysis of first births reveals that the age at first birth is lower among first-generation immigrants than among West Germans. The share of childless women in the immigrant group is much smaller than the one of the natives. First-birth risks are elevated during the first years after immigration. Second-generation migrants are older when giving birth for the first time, compared to their parents’ generation, but younger than West Germans.

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Presented in Session 18: Integration process of migrant population