MPIDR Working Paper

Leaving for life: using online crowd-sourced genealogies to estimate the migrant mortality advantage for the United Kingdom and Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries


Demographic studies consistently find a mortality advantage among migrants, but a lack of longitudinal data tracking individuals across national borders has limited the study of historical international migration. To address this gap, we use the crowd-sourced online genealogical database Familinx to estimate the migrant mortality advantage for migrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland between 1750 and 1910. We compare age at death for non-migrants and migrants to Canada, the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia using mixed-effects regression models that account for unobserved factors shared between siblings. Results suggest an overall expected migrant advantage of 5.9 years, 95% CI [5.7, 6.2] even after accounting for between-family variation, with migrants estimated to live an additional 2.6 [1.1, 4.0] to 8.7 [6.3, 11.2] years depending on the country of destination. This study contributes to the understanding of the migrant mortality advantage in a historical context and shows the potential for online genealogies to contribute to demographic research.  

Keywords: crowd-sourced genealogies, migrant mortality advantage, United Kingdom, Ireland, sibling effects 

Keywords: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, USA, genealogy, migration, mortality, siblings
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.