This project investigates the question of whether migrant women's fertility reflects high desired family sizes or difficulties regulating fertility due to high cost, lack of knowledge about services, and other obstacles. Society's most vulnerable women often face great challenges with fertility regulation. This may be particularly true of international migrant women who often lack healthcare access, social networks, and/or financial resources that might be important for fertility regulation. In this study, the association between migration and fertility, family planning use, fertility preferences, and difficulties regulating fertility is investigated by comparing international migrants to women in their countries of origin who have similar background characteristics but did not migrate. Findings will expand knowledge concerning population change and will have the potential to inform outreach strategies and public health campaigns that reduce unintended outcomes.

This project explores the association between international migration and fertility by combining data from both sending and receiving countries using a propensity score matching approach. To date, most studies have been limited to the use of data sources collected primarily in receiving countries and have typically compared migrants to native-born residents of the receiving country, rather than to residents of their country of origin with whom they share a common background. In contrast, our project integrates cross-sectional data from two surveys to create a novel data set that allows for matching highly similar respondents who did and did not migrate from sending countries to a receiving country. This enables: (1) investigation of the association between international migration and fertility by comparing migrants in receiving countries to similar non-migrants in sending countries; and (2) exploration of the association between international migration and underlying reproductive desires and behaviors that could help explain why migration is associated with fertility.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Joseph Whitmeyer
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University of Texas Austin
United States
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