Volume 37 - Article 19 | Pages 599–634  

Childbearing patterns among immigrant women and their daughters in Spain: Over-adaptation or structural constraints

By Amparo González-Ferrer, Teresa Castro Martín, Elisabeth Kraus, Tatiana Eremenko

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


Background: Spain, a country with one of the lowest fertility levels in the world, has recently received intense immigration flows that may contribute to fertility recovery.

Objective: The objective of this study is to examine whether the childbearing behaviour of immigrant women and their descendants shows a pattern of convergence with that of Spanish women born in or after 1950.

Methods: After merging data from the Fertility and Values Survey (2006) and the National Immigrants Survey (2007), we analyse the transition to first, second, and third birth using event history models, to identify variations in timing and incidence of birth transitions between native Spanish women and immigrant groups.

Results: Previous literature has found that migration disrupts immigrants’ fertility only temporarily; however, in the case of Spain, most migrant women who moved before starting family formation do not seem to fully compensate for migration-related disruption of fertility at a later stage. Our findings challenge the widespread belief that immigrants’ childbearing alone will allow Spain to leave behind the current lowest-low and latest-late fertility scenario.

Contribution: This article analyzes for the first time the fertility of different immigrant generations in Spain compared to native women, applying event history techniques. Our findings challenge conventional wisdom that immigration will improve very low fertility levels in Spain.

Author's Affiliation

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Mixed marriages between immigrants and natives in Spain: The gendered effect of marriage market constraints
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Partnership formation and dissolution among immigrants in the Spanish context
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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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Change and continuity in the fertility of unpartnered women in Latin America, 1980–2010
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Social policies, separation, and second birth spacing in Western Europe
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What drives Senegalese migration to Europe? The role of economic restructuring, labor demand, and the multiplier effect of networks
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The contributions of childbearing within marriage and within consensual union to fertility in Latin America, 1980-2010
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The reproductive context of cohabitation in comparative perspective: Contraceptive use in the United States, Spain, and France
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Sampling international migrants with origin-based snowballing method: New evidence on biases and limitations
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Single motherhood and low birthweight in Spain: Narrowing social inequalities in health?
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Is Latin America starting to retreat from early and universal childbearing?
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Women’s changing socioeconomic position and union formation in Spain and Portugal
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Not truly partnerless: Non-residential partnerships and retreat from marriage in Spain
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