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The convergence of completed fertility for migrant generations

21st March 2013 3pm, University of Southampton 58/1009

Ben Wilson, London School of Economics

Previous research has attempted to test migrant fertility convergence, but has failed to define this concept in detail, or develop an agreed methodology. This may explain why the literature on convergence remains fragmented, with a confusing array of competing hypotheses and explanations. After reviewing alternative definitions of convergence, this paper compares convergence (towards native fertility levels) within, between, and across migrant generations. Unlike much previous research, completed fertility is used, which allows particular hypotheses to be isolated, and avoids the results being confounded due to birth timing differentials. Completed fertility is estimated using recently released data for the UK, and the analysis makes use of negative binomial regression models. In aggregate, the results show evidence of convergence between, within, and across generations, thereby supporting the adaptation hypothesis. However, analysis by ancestral origin shows that evidence of convergence is highly dependent the definition of convergence that is used. For the cohorts of UK women analysed here, this is most notable for women from Bangladesh, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the USA. However, there is fairly strong evidence of adaptation for women from Ireland and Jamaica, and of cultural entrenchment for South Asian migrants. These conclusions remain unchanged after considering social characteristics (i.e. comparing to a more similar the native benchmark), but the results for men show noticeably differences, particularly for first generation adult migrants.