Why Does Migration Decrease Fertility? A Multicountry Analysis

Eric R. Jensen, College of William and Mary
Dennis A. Ahlburg, University of Minnesota
Sarah M. Gale, College of William and Mary

Jensen and Ahlburg (2003) found little support for post-migration adoption of fertility norms, and strong evidence of the importance of increased opportunity costs of childbearing in accounting for postmigratory fertility declines in the Philippines. In the present paper, we examine migrants in a broader set of countries, and find that the fertility of migrants to urban areas typically is not significantly lower than the fertility displayed by those who migrate between equally urbanized areas. Postmigratory employment is associated with lower subsequent fertility in Latin America, regardless of whether the destination is more urban than the migrant's place of origin, although the relationship is statistically significant only in the larger samples. In our Middle Eastern data, the level of female employment is low and postmigratory employment does not affect subsequent fertility, suggesting the importance of the status of women in the causal mechanism we posit.

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Presented in Session 1: Internal Migration in Developing Countries I