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Migration and Fertility: A Multidimensional Understanding

The Migration and Fertility Project is a collaboration between researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Texas at Austin. The project focuses on a major concern to society: How can women fulfill their desires either to get pregnant or to avoid it? It is often society’s most vulnerable women who face the greatest challenges in trying to manage their fertility. This may be particularly true of women who migrate internationally and who often lack access to healthcare, social networks, and/or financial resources that might be important for decisions about their fertility and family planning. Nonetheless, researchers and policymakers lack a clear understanding of whether migrant women’s decisions about their fertility reflect a strong desire for a particular family size, high costs associated with regulating fertility, lack of knowledge about family planning services, and so on. This study, led by social demographers Julia Behrman of IPR/Northwestern and Abigail Weitzman of UT Austin, investigates these issues by comparing international migrants to women in their countries of origin who have similar backgrounds but did not migrate. In doing so, the researchers investigate how migration is associated with fertility—including migrant women’s stated needs for it and how they manage it—as well as family planning use. The study’s findings will have important implications not only for scholarly knowledge, but also for understanding the policy and reproductive healthcare needs of migrant populations.  

They researchers gratefully acknowledge support for this project through National Science Foundation Grants # 1918274 and #1918337.