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Immigrant-Native Fertility and Mortality Differentials in the United States

  • Pervi Sevak

    (Hunter College)

  • Lucie Schmidt

    (Williams College)

Immigrants have been discussed as a means of alleviating fiscal pressures on Social Security. Their long-term impact on the Social Security system depends critically on their fertility and mortality patterns. In this paper, we examine the fertility and mortality patterns of immigrants to the United States and compare these patterns with those of non-immigrants. We find that both the recent and cumulative fertility of immigrant women is higher than that of native-born women, but that a large share of these differentials can be “explained” by differences in age structures, race and ethnicity, years in the United States, and country of origin. Using a synthetic cohort approach, we examine the role of years in the United States in more detail, and find no evidence of assimilation towards native-born fertility patterns. Consistent with previous research, we find evidence of a disruption effect on fertility – the fertility of immigrant women in the most recent arrival cohorts is low, but increases at a faster rate relative to both the fertility of immigrants from earlier cohorts and relative to the fertility of natives. We find that immigrants experience lower mortality than native-born individuals in the United States, and these differences remain even after controlling for underlying differences in observable characteristics. However we find that they do not exhibit differences in their subjective expectations of their mortality.

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Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp181.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp181
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  1. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli, 2005. "Fertility: The Role of Culture and Family Experience," NBER Working Papers 11569, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Robert W. Hartman & Thomas J. Espenshade, 1994. "Can immigration slow U.S. population aging?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(4), pages 759-768.
  4. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  5. Michael D. Hurd & Kathleen McGarry, 2002. "The Predictive Validity of Subjective Probabilities of Survival," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 966-985, October.
  6. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
  7. Lucie Schmidt & Purvi Sevak, 2013. "How do Immigrants Fare in Retirement," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-07, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  8. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2006. "Unhealthy assimilation: Why do immigrants converge to American health status levels?," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 337-360, May.
  9. Alan L. Gustman & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1998. "Social Security Benefits of Immigrants and U.S. Born," NBER Working Papers 6478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ronald Lee, 2000. "Long-Term Population Projections and the US Social Security System," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(1), pages 137-143.
  11. Regina T. Riphahn & Jochen Mayer, 2000. "Fertility assimilation of immigrants: Evidence from count data models," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 241-261.
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