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The Relationship of Personal and Neighborhood Characteristics to Immigrant Fertility


  • Laura E Hill
  • Hans P Johnson


We find that fertility varies by immigrant generation, with significant declines between the first and subsequent generations for groups with large immigrant population. However, we find that personal characteristics--such as educational attainment, marital status, and income levels--are much more important than immigrant generation in understanding fertility outcomes. In fact, generations are not independently important once these personal characteristics are controlled for. We maintain that declining fertility levels among the descendants of Mexican and Central American immigrants are primarily the result of higher educational attainment levels, lower rates of marriage, and lower poverty. For example, a four-year increase in educational attainment decreases children ever born (CEB) by half a child. We conclude that immigrant generation serves as a proxy for changes in other personal characteristics that decrease fertility. Neighborhood characteristics have some bearing on fertility, but the correlations are relatively weak. Among Mexican and Central American immigrants and their descendants, the most consistent predictor of children ever born (CEB) at the neighborhood level is the percentage of Hispanic adults. However, no neighborhood characteristics bear any statistical relationship to current fertility, the measure that emphasizes recent births. This pattern of evidence suggests that the observed relationships between neighborhood characteristics and fertility are based on selection into the neighborhood rather than on neighborhood influences as such.

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  • Laura E Hill & Hans P Johnson, 2002. "The Relationship of Personal and Neighborhood Characteristics to Immigrant Fertility," Working Papers 02-20, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:02-20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francine D. Blau, 1992. "The Fertility of Immigrant Women: Evidence from High-Fertility Source Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 93-134 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, January.
    3. R. D. Plotnick & S. D. Hoffman, "undated". "The Effect of Neighborhood Characteristics on Young Adult Outcomes: Alternative Estimates," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1106-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    4. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-991, October.
    5. Weiren Wang & Felix Famoye, 1997. "Modeling household fertility decisions with generalized Poisson regression," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 10(3), pages 273-283.
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    CES; economic; research; micro; data; microdata; chief; economist;

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