MPIDR Working Paper

Migration and fertility: competing hypotheses re-examined

Kulu, H.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2003-035, 40 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (October 2003)
Open Access


Competing views exist concerning the impact of geographical mobility on childbearing patterns. Early research shows that internal migrants largely exhibit fertility levels dominant in their childhood environment, while later studies find migrants’ fertility to resemble more closely that of natives at destination. Some authors attribute the latter to adaptation, but others claim that selection of migrants by fertility preferences may be the cause. Moreover, the short-term fertility-lowering-effect of residential relocation has also been proposed and challenged in the literature. This paper contributes to the existing discussion by providing an analysis of the effect of internal migration on fertility of post-war Estonian female cohorts. We base our study on retrospective event-history data and apply intensity regression for both single and simultaneous equations. Our analysis shows that first, the risk of birth decreases with increasing settlement size and the decrease is larger for higher-order parities. Second, it shows that migrants, whatever their origin, exhibit fertility levels similar to those of non-migrants at destination. Our further analysis supports the adaptation hypothesis. We find no evidence on strong selectivity of migrants by fertility preferences, although we observe elevated fertility levels after residential relocations arsing from union formation.
Keywords: Estonia, event history analysis, fertility, internal migration
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.