Immigrant Fertility: A Comparative Study between Italy and Russia

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Abstract

In this paper, we contribute to the analysis of fertility differentials between female migrants and the native-born by examining the transition to first child using event history analysis. We use event history as a quantitative translation of the life-course approach. The data examined are the Italian Families and Social Subjects (FSS) survey, conducted in 2003, and the Russian Parents and Children, Men and Women in Family and Society survey, conducted in 2004. We examine the data sets separately and contrast the results. The objective of the study is twofold. First, we seek to determine whether differences exist in the decision and timing of childbearing between native and immigrant women in Italy and in Russia. Second, we aim to compare the experiences of immigrants in the two countries, to determine whether there may be any commonalities inherent to the immigrant populations despite moving into widely different contexts. Our results suggest that the age profiles and marital status similarly affect the immigrant regardless of whether she is migrating to Russia or to Italy. In Italy, educational attainment is positively correlated with first-birth intensities for immigrants – the opposite of what is observed for the native-born. In Russia, education is not a significant determinant for immigrants. This leads us to the following conclusion: the similarity in the risk profiles of our immigrants into vastly different country contexts is more suggestive of immigrants following a distinct life course, with common risk profiles for bearing their first child, than assimilating or conforming to the native fertility patterns. Social capital in particular may play a different role in determining fertility patterns for immigrants, as it does for the native-born.

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