MPIDR Working Paper

The fertility behaviour of East to West German migrants

Vatterrott, A.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2011-013, 46 pages (August 2011).
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Keywords: Germany, fertility, internal migration


In the twenty years since the reunification of Germany, we have seen a convergence of total fertility rates in the eastern and western parts of the country, but differences remain in the timing, number and spacing of births. Our aim in this paper is to better understand the persistence of these differences by studying the fertility behaviour of migrants from the East to the West. Millions of people have followed this migration path in recent decades, mainly in response to the unfavourable economic conditions in the East. We use data from the German Socio-Economic Panel of the years 1990 to 2009. Using event history modelling, we analyse whether the first and second birth behaviours of female East-West German migrants resemble the patterns of one of the non-mobile populations in the eastern or western parts of the country. We find that migrants’ first and second birth risks lie in between those of non-mobile eastern and western Germans. Socio-economic characteristics, value orientations and partners’ characteristics are employed as explanatory variables, but do not fully account for the differences between the three groups. We investigate whether the special behavioural patterns of migrants can be explained by the fact that they are a selected group, but do not find support for this hypothesis.