Migrants’ fertility: the influence of partner choice on the fertility of the second generation in Belgium

Lisa Van Landschoot, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Helga A. G. de Valk, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Didier Willaert, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Jan Van Bavel, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

While the reproductive behavior of first generation migrants is well documented in the literature, research on the fertility behavior of their descendants of diverse origins that goes beyond generational changes, is still rather scarce. This is especially true for studies that analyze how other life course decisions might influence and are linked to the transition to parenthood for the children of immigrants. This study examines how the partner choice of second generation migrants in Belgium is related to their fertility behavior. Second generation young adults face the option of forming a union with a native Belgian partner, a second generation migrant from their own origin group, or with a first generation migrant of same origin. We use data from the 2001 Belgian Census and our preliminary results show connections between the origins of different second generation migrant groups and their respective partner choices. Second generation European migrants decide more often to partner a native Belgian, whereas those of Turkish or Moroccan origin (the two most important non-Western groups in Belgium) are more likely to choose a partner from their own origin group: 54.9% second generation Turks form a union with a first generation migrant, 16.6% with someone of 1.5 generation, and 15.3% partner a second generation migrant. For Moroccans, these percentages are respectively 51.1%, 7.7%, and 18.3%. Interestingly, these differences are also connected with the average number of children per union. Mixed couples between a native Belgian and a second generation partner of European origin have quite similar average number of children compared to native Belgian couples. The average number of children of second generation Turks or Moroccans depends on the generation of his/her partner: the averages are the highest if the partner is a first generation migrant and the lowest when he or she is a native Belgian.

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Presented in Session 96: Fertility of immigrants