Childbearing among first- and second generation Russians in Estonia against the background of the sending and host countries
Background: An expanding literature documents the childbearing patterns of migrants and their descendants in contemporary Europe. The existing evidence pertains mainly to the northern, western, and southern regions of the continent, while less is known about the fertility of migrants who have moved between the countries of Eastern Europe.
Objective: The aim of this study is to examine the fertility patterns of first- and second-generation Russians in Estonia, relative to the sending and host populations.
Methods: The study draws on the Estonian and Russian Generations and Gender Surveys. Proportional hazards models are estimated for the transitions to first, second, and third births.
Results: Russian migrants in Estonia exhibit greater similarity to the sending population, with a lower propensity for having a second and third birth than the host population. This pattern extends to the descendants of migrants. However, mixed Estonian-Russian parentage, enrolment in Estonian-language schools, and residence among the host population are associated with the convergence of Russians’ childbearing behaviour with the host-country patterns. The findings support the cultural maintenance and adaptation perspectives; selectivity was found to be less important.
Contribution: The study focuses on a previously under-researched context and underscores the importance of contextual factors in shaping migrants’ fertility patterns. It raises the possibility that, depending on the childbearing trends and levels among the sending and receiving populations, large-scale migration may reduce rather than increase aggregate fertility in the host country. With the advancement of the fertility transition in sending countries, this situation may become more common in Europe in the future.