Journal Article

The neglected role of domestic migration on family patterns in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1950-2000

Studies in Family Planning, 1–23 (2023)
Open Access


Urbanization has played a key role in shaping twentieth-century demographic changes in Latin America and the Caribbean (LACar). As a result, scholarly research on domestic migration and the family has primarily focused on fertility differentials by migration status in urban areas, finding a robust negative correlation between internal migration and fertility. This research has overlooked how this relationship varies across types of migration flows other than rural-to-urban migration and by women's age at migration and social class. Additionally, not enough attention has been paid to the family formation and dissolution trajectories underlying the lower fertility of rural migrants. I use a life-course inductive approach to examine these overlooked aspects among women from 10 LACar countries, including the three largest countries by population. Using retrospective information on women's childbearing and marital histories from the Demographic and Health Surveys, I build an eight-category typology of family paths and study the conditional distribution of this typology by women's age at migration, educational attainment, and origin/destination area. This examination demonstrates that social class is the primary source of differentiation across family formation and dissolution trajectories and that low-class young rural migrants played a crucial role in the demographic transformations that occurred in the region.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.