28.1.2014 | Von:
Frank Swiaczny

Integration and Reproductive Behavior

Tür eines Kreißsaales mit Storchen-Zeichnung Door to the delivery room of a German hospital. (© picture alliance / zb)
For the German case, the relationship between international migration and population development can be observed in the number of children born to foreign citizen mothers, which has strongly increased since the 1960s (112,358 births in 2011). These mothers are responsible for 17 percent of all births in Germany, although non-citizens only constitute 7.8 percent of the German population. There are several causes for the growing proportion of these births of non-citizen mothers. First, the number of non-citizen residents has increased with the rising number of migrants in the last decades, thereby bringing more potential mothers (compare chart 2). Second, migrants usually migrate while they are young. The average age of the non-citizen population in 2011 was 39.4 years of age, while the average age of the German population was 44.4 years of age. This also leads to a relatively high number of potential mothers. Finally, women without German citizenship give birth to a higher average number of children than do women with German citizenship. Thus past migration and the resulting births have generally helped make the otherwise aging German population younger.

Processes of Adaptation

However, a comparison of the total fertility rates suggests that in the course of integration processes, the fertility of non-citizen women in Germany draws nearer to that of German women. In 1990 the average fertility of women with foreign citizenship was 2.04 children, compared to 1.26 children for German women (see Chart 5). By 2011, this difference had decreased significantly: the average number of births of non-citizen mothers was 1.58, as opposed to 1.33 births for women with a German passport. The higher birth rates among migrants are usually attributed to the higher average number of births in their countries of origin. It is assumed that the longer they live in Germany, the more they adapt their family planning and fertility level to fit the ideals and conditions of the host country. However, for newly immigrating women one should consider that also in most countries of origin the total fertility rate has dropped considerably.
Chart 5: Total Fertility Rate (TFR), according to Citizenship of Mothers in Germany 1990-2011Chart 5: Total Fertility Rate (TFR), according to Citizenship of Mothers in Germany 1990-2011 Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/3.0/de/ (bpb)

A closer analysis of the causes for different fertility levels among women of different migration generations and of different regions of origin shows that the higher fertility of migrants often has to do with a lower socio-economic status and with less formal education. As is also the case with German women, a higher socio-economic status and a higher level of education lead to lower fertility levels. However, this research does not currently give conclusive evidence regarding the important demographic question, whether or not a longer period of residence would lead non-citizen women or their children to adapt their family planning and fertility levels to that of the German population, or whether some immigrant groups would continue to have a higher level of fertility. Nonetheless, one can generally observe that high education levels and good integration in the labor market, which is demanded of them for economic reasons, actually reduce the positive effects that immigration has in countering demographic aging and population decline[1].

This text is part of the policy brief on "Demographic Change and Migration in Europe".


Data source: Federal Statistical Office.
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