Volume 35 - Article 49 | Pages 1441–1488  

Why does fertility remain high among certain UK-born ethnic minority women?

By Hill Kulu, Tina Hannemann

This article is part of the Special Collection 23 "Childbearing among the Descendants of Immigrants in Europe"

Abstract

Background: Previous research has shown high total fertility among certain UK-born ethnic minorities, but the reasons behind their high fertility have remained far from clear. Some researchers attribute their elevated fertility levels to cultural factors, whereas others argue that high fertility is the consequence of their poor education and labour market prospects.

Objective: This study investigates fertility among the descendants of immigrants in the UK and examines the determinants of high fertility among certain ethnic minority groups.

Methods: We use data from the Understanding Society study and apply multivariate event history analysis.

Results: The analysis shows, first, that relatively high second-, third-, and fourth-birth rates are responsible for the elevated total fertility among certain UK-born minorities, especially women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. There is little variation in the first-birth rates among natives and immigrant descendants. Second, although fertility differences between ethnic minorities and native British women slightly decrease once religiosity and number of siblings are controlled for, significant differences persist. We conclude that cultural factors account for some elevated fertility among ethnic groups in the UK, whereas the role of education and employment seem to be only minor.

Contribution: Cultural factors account for some elevated fertility among ethnic minorities in the UK, whereas the role of education and employment seem to be negligible.

Author's Affiliation

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