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Fertility, Migration, and Altruism

  • Eli Berman
  • Zaur Rzakhanov

Consider migration to a higher income region as a human capital investment in which parents bear migration costs and children share returns. Migrants from a population with heterogeneous intergenerational discount rates will be self-selected on intergenerational altruism. Thus, immigrants may be self-selected on fertility. Soviet Jews who migrate to Israel despite high migration costs have significantly more children than members of the same birth cohort who migrate later when costs are low. We distinguish selection from treatment effects using a comparison group of women who migrate after childbearing age. We also find that immigrants favor bequests more and spend more time with their grandchildren in the U.S. Health and Retirement Survey. Selection on altruism can explain why historically immigrant-absorbing countries like the U.S. have higher fertility than other countries at comparable income levels. It provides an alternative explanation for Chiswick's classic earnings-overtaking result. Selection on altruism also implies that immigrant-absorbing regions will grow faster, or have higher per capita income, or both.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7545.

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Date of creation: Feb 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7545
Note: AG CH ITI LS
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  1. Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 1995. "Population Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262181606, June.
  2. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 2248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Friedberg, Rachel M, 2000. "You Can't Take It with You? Immigrant Assimilation and the Portability of Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 221-51, April.
  4. LaLonde, Robert J & Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Immigrants in the American Labor Market: Quality, Assimilation, and Distributional Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 297-302, May.
  5. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
  6. Francine D. Blau, 1991. "The Fertility of Immigrant Women: Evidence from High Fertility Source Countries," NBER Working Papers 3608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Barro, R.J. & Becker, G.S., 1988. "Fertility Choice In A Model Of Economic Growth," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-8, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  8. Altonji, Joseph G & Hayashi, Fumio & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1992. "Is the Extended Family Altruistically Linked? Direct Tests Using Micro Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1177-98, December.
  9. Eli Berman, 1998. "Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's View of Ultra-Orthodox Jews," NBER Working Papers 6715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Tcha, Moonjoong, 1996. "Altruism and Migration: Evidence from Korea and the United States," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(4), pages 859-78, July.
  11. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
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