Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The effect of culture on the fertility decisions of immigrant women in the United States

Marcén, Miriam and Molina, Jose Alberto and Morales, Marina (2016): The effect of culture on the fertility decisions of immigrant women in the United States.

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This paper examines whether culture plays a role in the number of children born. To explore this issue, we use data on immigrant women who arrived in the United States under 6 years old. Since all these women are resident in the same country from their early lives, and grew up under the same laws, institutions, and economic conditions, then the differences between them by country of origin may be due to cultural differences, as the epidemiological approach suggests. Following that approach, we identify the cultural effect, exploiting variations in the mean number of children born by country of origin, using data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series International that allows us to measure more precisely the cultural proxy by age, education level, and employment status. Results show that the home-country mean number of children born has a positive and statistically significant relationship to the number of children born of immigrants living in the US, suggesting that culture is important. Our findings are robust to the introduction of several home country variables, and to the use of different subsamples. Our results are maintained when we control for unobservable characteristics by country of origin. Additionally, we extend this work to an analysis of both the decision to have children and the number of children born, finding again that culture appears to play a significant role.

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