Volume 50 - Article 13 | Pages 377–392  

Cohort fertility of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union

By Gustavo Shifris, Barbara S. Okun


Background: The political and economic change accompanying the collapse of the Soviet Union triggered a large wave of immigrants to Israel during the 1990s. These immigrants arrived from low-fertility contexts to a higher-fertility society.

Objective: We consider how the fertility of cohorts of diverse immigrant women from a low fertility context shifts in the context of high fertility.

Methods: We examine completed fertility, parity distributions, and age at first birth of immigrant women compared to native-born Jewish women. Data taken from the Israel Population Register and from Israel Social Surveys are examined by birth cohort, religion, and religiosity.

Results: We document increases in completed fertility, proportions at final parity 3, age at first birth, and rapid reductions in proportions at final parity 1, across birth cohorts of immigrants who arrived between their early 20s and their early 30s. Rates of change slowed across cohorts of immigrants who arrived between ages 10–21. Relative to comparisons between all Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet Union and all native-born Jews, there is much closer convergence between secular immigrants and the secular native-born in terms of completed fertility, but substantially less convergence in terms of age at first birth. We also describe strikingly different patterns of change among immigrants who are not classified as Jewish.

Contribution: Patterns of immigrant convergence in fertility patterns vis-à-vis native-born groups differ markedly by religion and religiosity. Our findings highlight the importance of explicitly considering heterogeneity among immigrant and native-born groups.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Cohabitation among secular Jews in Israel: How ethnicity, education, and employment characteristics are related to young adults' living arrangements
Volume 35 - Article 32

Fertility and marriage behavior in Israel: Diversity, change, and stability
Volume 28 - Article 17

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