Fertility by Birth Order among the Descendants of Immigrants in Selected European Countries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Hill Kulu
  • Ariane Pailhé
  • Karel Neels
  • Sandra Krapf
  • Amparo González-Ferrer
  • Gunnar Andersson


This study investigates the childbearing patterns of the descendants of immigrants in six European countries, with a focus on women whose parents arrived in Europe from high-fertility countries. While the fertility levels of immigrants to Europe have been examined in the recent literature, the childbearing patterns among their descendants have received little attention. Using longitudinal data from six European countries and applying Poisson regression models, the study shows that many descendants of immigrants have first birth levels that are similar to the native population in their respective countries; however, first birth levels are slightly elevated among women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin in the UK and for those of Turkish descent in France and Belgium. Transition rates to a second child vary less across ethnic groups; only women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin in the UK have elevated second birth levels. Most women with immigrant family background in the UK, France and Belgium show significantly higher third birth levels than natives in those countries. The inclusion of women’s level of education in the analysis has little effect on fertility differences across the ethnic groups. Overall, the childbearing behavior of the second generation falls in between the fertility pathways experienced by their parents’ generation and the respective native populations. The analysis supports the idea that both the mainstream society and the minority subculture shape the childbearing patterns of the descendants of immigrants in Europe. Fertility levels of the descendants of immigrants from high-fertility countries are expected to decline further in the third generation, but a significant intra-group heterogeneity is likely to persist.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-60
Number of pages30
JournalPopulation and Development Review
Issue number1
Early online date8 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Related information