How international migration impacts fertility? The role of migrant networks, spouse’s migration, and own migration

Pau Baizán, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Few studies have analyzed the interrelationships between migration and fertility using bi-national longitudinal data, so that the effects of selection, adaptation and the timing of these processes can be properly assessed. Furthermore, the possible fertility impact of migration networks and of couple’s transnational living arrangements have been largely overlooked, in spite of its importance in many migration flows, including in particular African migrations to Europe. The availability of personal networks abroad and spouse’s migration provide (future) migration opportunities for non-migrant individuals, as well as for both, the “left behind” partner and their children, that could modify fertility behavior. Here I empirically investigate the hypothesis that the presence of these migration opportunities has a negative effect on fertility. Detailed partnership, fertility and migration histories, as well as rich information about migration networks and characteristics of both partners of the couple are obtained from the Senegalese population samples of the Migration between Africa and Europe (MAFE) surveys. These retrospective surveys took place in 2008 and 2011 in Senegal, France, Italy and Spain. I apply event history models and simultaneous equations models, that account for both, selectivity effects and timing effects arising from the migration process. Results show that, net of selection and timing effects, women living in Senegal with networks in Europe, or with a partner living in Europe, show substantially lower fertility than other non migrant women, thus providing support to the above hypothesis. Disruption effects due to the migration process are also present, leading to a 50 per cent reduction in fertility during the migration year. Lower long term fertility of migrants in the countries of destination is present, but it is largely explained by selection effects. Overall, these results suggest that a high emigration level can speed–up the fertility transition.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 88: Comparative perspectives on migration and fertility