International mobility and disruptions in fertility patterns – towards new insights from a low fertility context (MIGFERT)


The aim of the project is twofold: first, to assess quantitatively the fertility levels of mobile persons with particular emphasis put on the interrelation between migration trajectory and reproductive behaviours, second, to identify the background factors and reproductive beliefs underlying the disruptions in fertility timing observed among internationally mobile people. The project will focus on the temporal relations between complex migration and childbearing biographies. While most studies referred to immigrants from less developed and high fertility countries to Western and, more recently Northern Europe, this study fills the gap in the existing knowledge by addressing new groups of migrants (migrants from low fertility countries) and a new country of immigration in Central Europe: Poland, with its low fertility context. Second, it does not focus on single direction moves, but concerns the whole spectrum of mobility forms consisting of permanent migration, return migration, and temporary mobility.

The methodology of the project consists of systematic quantitative analysis of the fertility patterns of mobile population. As for Polish emigrants and returnees, we will estimate the level of fertility based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS) microdata from major destinations and Poland as well as a panel survey of Families of Poles in the Netherlands (FNP). As for immigrants in Poland, not sufficiently grasped in the Polish LFS, we will conduct  Respondent Driven Sampling survey among nationals of Ukraine living in Poland. We will investigate how different fertility measures approximate migrant fertility patterns and look for efficient methods of correction for age at arrival, time since migration and premigration fertility.

In search of an in-depth understanding of fertility disruption mechanisms among migrants, we will apply a qualitative approach. In the in-depth interviews with women and men, parents and childless, Poles and Ukrainians with varied migration experience, we will address behavioural, normative and control beliefs determining the intention to have a child. By collecting their narrative accounts on reproductive biographies (and migration trajectories) we will look for mechanisms and background factors underlying reproductive decisions which are observed as fertility distortions. Aiming to provide a systematic comparison for the qualitative interviews with Polish migrants and Poles who have returned from abroad we will also interview their adult non-mobile sibling hence applying an innovative (for social sciences) sibling pair-sampling, bringing the scheme of our research closer to the classic experiment.

For the project team we are currently offering a 3-year-long stipend for a quantitatively oriented doctoral student. Furthermore, in 2022 we aim to recruit a Ukrainian speaking qualitative post-doc researcher, RDS coordinator and interviewers.


2021 - 2024

Source of funding

National Science Centre, Poland, SONATA-16 grant