Volume 48 - Article 10 | Pages 271–320

Union formation and fertility amongst immigrants from Pakistan and their descendants in the United Kingdom: A multichannel sequence analysis

By Joseph Harrison, Katherine Keenan, Frank Sullivan, Hill Kulu

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Date received:16 Jun 2022
Date published:22 Feb 2023
Word count:8796
Keywords:assimilation, fertility, life course, migrants, sequence analysis, union formation, United Kingdom


Background: Previous work identifies conservative family behaviour amongst Pakistanis in the United Kingdom relative to natives, including earlier marriages, fewer dissolutions, and higher fertility. However, few studies have investigated how fertility and partnership are intertwined and interdependent.

Objective: Our aims are, first, to identify differences between the family trajectories of Pakistanis and natives and, second, to determine if patterns are consistent across immigrant generations. Finally, we aim to identify how family trajectories vary across birth cohorts and education levels.

Methods: We apply multichannel sequence analysis (MCSA) to data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study. We first use clustering methods to group similar individuals and then apply multinomial logistic regression to calculate the probability of belonging to a cluster based on individual characteristics.

Results: The Pakistani population exhibits a higher likelihood of entering a direct marriage and having large families compared to natives. Cohabitation is rare amongst Pakistani population. These patterns have changed little between immigrant generations. Degree-level education is associated with a higher likelihood of adopting behaviours typical to ancestral natives; however, the effects are not large enough to indicate convergence.

Contribution: We demonstrate the need to investigate partnership and fertility trajectories simultaneously and show the value of MCSA for identifying differences between migrant groups. The results improve our understanding of family formation patterns of Pakistani immigrants and their descendants in the United Kingdom.

Author's Affiliation

Joseph Harrison - University of St Andrews, United Kingdom [Email]
Katherine Keenan - University of St Andrews, United Kingdom [Email]
Frank Sullivan - University of St Andrews, United Kingdom [Email]
Hill Kulu - University of St Andrews, United Kingdom [Email]

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