Volume 32 - Article 56 | Pages 1519–1566  

Partnership dynamics among migrants and their descendants in Estonia

By Leen Rahnu, Allan Puur, Luule Sakkeus, Martin Klesment

This article is part of the Special Collection 18 "Partnership dynamics among immigrants and their descendants in Europe"


Background: Extensive scholarly literature documents the decline in marriage and increase in non-marital cohabitation and divorce across regions and countries of Europe, but we know less about the extent to which these new family behaviours that have emerged in host societies are adopted by migrants.

Objective: The aim of this study is to examine partnership transitions among the migrants and their descendants in Estonia, who mainly originate from the European part of Russia. By investigating an East European context, the study contributes to a more comprehensive account of migrant populations in different socio-economic and cultural settings.

Methods: The study is based on the Estonian Generations and Gender Survey (2004/2005) and the Estonian Family and Fertility Survey (1994/1997), and employs proportional hazards models.

Results: The results show that new family formation patterns, associated with the Second Demographic Transition, are less prevalent among migrants. The difference between migrants and native Estonians is most pronounced in the mode of partnership formation and outcomes of cohabiting unions, whereas the results pertaining to union dissolution reveal a less systematic difference between population groups. Reflecting the relatively slow integration, the second-generation migrants exhibit partnership behaviour that differs from that of the native population. The observed differences between migrants and the native population appear largely similar for both men and women.

Conclusions: The results lend support to socialisation, cultural maintenance, and adaptation hypotheses, and underscore the importance of contextual factors. The analysis reveals disruption effects of migration on partnership processes.

Author's Affiliation

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Childbearing among first- and second-generation Russians in Estonia against the background of the sending and host countries
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Co-ethnic marriage versus intermarriage among immigrants and their descendants: A comparison across seven European countries using event-history analysis
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Educational heterogamy during the early phase of the educational expansion: Results from the university town of Tartu, Estonia in the late 19th century
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