Comparing the fertility of Ghanaian migrants in Europe with non-migrants in Ghana

Katharina Wolf, University of Groningen
Clara H. Mulder, University of Groningen

The fertility behaviour of migrants is often studied by examining migrants and native non-migrants in the country of destination. But to understand the mechanisms of migrant fertility it is important to know what distinguishes them from the population from which they originate. The Ghanaian sample of the "Migrations between Africa and Europe" project (MAFE) allows us to contrast the fertility of stayers who never emigrated from Ghana and Ghanaian migrants who are residing in the UK or the Netherlands. First, we estimate discrete-time hazard regression models on first birth to evaluate whether first birth timing is influenced by migration. Second, we apply Poisson regression techniques to examine differentials in completed fertility. We find that Ghanaian migrants postpone first childbirth compared with non-migrants. Differences are largest at ages 20 to 24 among women and between 20 and 29 among men. Ghana experiences a typical brain drain, which means that especially the highly skilled emigrate. In our sample this is particularly true for women. However, the postponement of migrants’ first births cannot be attributed to their relatively higher educational level. But our findings show that education plays a major role in completed fertility. By age 40, migrants have fewer children than non-migrants. This difference diminishes considerably if we take into account the educational level, an effect that is more pronounced among women than among men. It reveals that educational selectivity is less relevant for first births, which apparently are postponed as a result of the migration process. But the highly educated seem not to fully catch-up and end up with a lower number of children by age 40.

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Presented in Session 88: Comparative perspectives on migration and fertility