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Changing Fertility Preferences One Migrant at a Time: The Impact of Remittances on the Fertility Rate


  • Naufal, George S

    () (Texas A&M University)

  • Vargas-Silva, Carlos

    () (University of Oxford)


In this article we study the relationship between workers' remittances and fertility rate of the remittance receiving country. We identify two main channels by which remittances transfers affect fertility. First, migrants may adopt and later transmit to the household the ideas, values and attitudes predominant in the host country. Arguably, migrants with more attachment to the household would be more inclined to remit money home. Therefore, remittances can be seen as a proxy for the level of social norms (including fertility preferences) that is transmitted from the migrant to the household. Second, previous studies have shown that remittances money is often used for health services and educational expenses, factors that may ultimately decrease fertility rates. Using panel data for several countries we find a negative relationship between remittances and the fertility rate. The relationship is robust for a sub-sample of Latin American and African countries, but not for a sub-sample of Asian countries. In addition to finding evidence on the transfer of social norms from migrants to the home country, the paper also confirms that several socio-economic factors such as female labor force participation, percent of the population in rural areas and GDP per capita affect fertility rates.

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  • Naufal, George S & Vargas-Silva, Carlos, 2009. "Changing Fertility Preferences One Migrant at a Time: The Impact of Remittances on the Fertility Rate," IZA Discussion Papers 4066, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4066

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tadashi Yamada, 1984. "Causal Relationships between Infant Mortality and Fertility in Developedand Less Developed Countries," NBER Working Papers 1528, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Ralph Chami & Connel Fullenkamp & Samir Jahjah, 2005. "Are Immigrant Remittance Flows a Source of Capital for Development?," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 52(1), pages 55-81, April.
    3. Parsons, Christopher R. & Skeldon, Ronald & Walmsley, Terrie L. & Winters, L. Alan, 2007. "Quantifying international migration : a database of bilateral migrant stocks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4165, The World Bank.
    4. Frédéric Docquier, 2004. "Income Distribution, Non-convexities and the Fertility-Income Relationship," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 71(281), pages 261-273, May.
    5. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-177, January.
    6. Adams Jr., Richard H. & Cuecuecha, Alfredo, 2010. "Remittances, Household Expenditure and Investment in Guatemala," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 1626-1641, November.
    7. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Susan Pozo, 2006. "Migration, Remittances, and Male and Female Employment Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 222-226, May.
    8. El-Sakka, M. I. T. & McNabb, Robert, 1999. "The Macroeconomic Determinants of Emigrant Remittances," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 1493-1502, August.
    9. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Tania Sainz & Susan Pozo, 2007. "Remittances and healthcare expenditure patterns of populations in origin communities : evidence from Mexico," INTAL Working Papers 1450, Inter-American Development Bank, INTAL.
    10. Carlos Vargas-Silva, 2009. "Crime and Remittance Transfers," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 232-247.
    11. Alejandra Cox Edwards & Manuelita Ureta, 2003. "International Migration, Remittances, and Schooling: Evidence from El Salvador," NBER Working Papers 9766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Edwards, Alejandra Cox & Ureta, Manuelita, 2003. "International migration, remittances, and schooling: evidence from El Salvador," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 429-461, December.
    13. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Pozo, Susan, 2004. "Workers' Remittances and the Real Exchange Rate: A Paradox of Gifts," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1407-1417, August.
    14. Hill Kulu, 2003. "Migration and fertility: competing hypotheses re-examined," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-035, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. George Naufal, 2015. "Impact of remittances on fertility," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 207-207, November.
    2. Michael Clemens and Timothy N. Ogden, 2014. "Migration as a Strategy for Household Finance: A Research Agenda on Remittances, Payments, and Development- Working Paper 354," Working Papers 354, Center for Global Development.

    More about this item


    remittances; fertility rate; panel data; Latin America; Africa; Asia;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • F24 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Remittances
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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