How quickly do women have children after moving to England?

Do women from different countries, who migrate to England and Wales, have children as soon as they arrive? Or do they wait until some time has passed before having children? In a new paper, published in the journal Demographic Research James Robards and Ann Berrington have studied the timing of fertility among migrants to England and Wales.

Between 2001 and 2011 people moved to England and Wales for a variety of reasons. Along with traditional migration flows from countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, migration from other countries increased. Noticeably there was an increase in people moving from countries that joined the European Union in 2004, such as Poland and Slovakia.

The paper looks at each of these migration flows, studying, the age of female migrants, how many children were migrating with women to England and Wales and at what point after migration women gave birth.

Unlike previous research, this study looks at how long after arrival migrant women give birth depending on their age at arrival and country of birth. The trends are shown separately according to the country the woman was born in, and also their age at the time of migration. The patterns observed are also likely to relate to the differing reasons for migration by country of birth and age which have been considered in earlier research.

The main findings show that, compared to the other countries studied, women born in Pakistan or Bangladesh who arrive in their 20s are the most likely to have children in the first 5 years after moving to England or Wales. In contrast, women from countries such as India and Poland, who tend to migrate for work related reasons, generally delay childbearing until some years after migration.

James says this research is particularly important for understanding the family building patterns of migrants since "Traditionally, estimates of fertility among migrants to England and Wales have used the 'Total Fertility Rate'. Our research shows that the TFR may exaggerate the number of children a woman is estimated to have through an entire life course. Therefore, estimates of future population change should aim to take into account changes in fertility around the time of migration for some migrant groups".

The full paper is on the Demographic Research Website

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