Reports 2014/04

Fertility and other demographic processes among immigrants and their children born in Norway

This publication is in Norwegian only

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Norway has experienced a pronounced growth in immigration in recent decade, from 40.000 immigrations in 2002 to nearly 80.000 in 2012. The number of immigrants living in Norway has more than doubled since 2004 to 600.000 persons in 2013, corresponding to 12 per cent of the population.

The growth in the number of immigrants as well as the fact that most immigrant women are of child-bearing ages, explain why an increasing number of babies born in Norway has an immigrant mother. In 2012, 23 percent of the newborns – nearly one in four babies – had a mother who was an immigrant. 15 years ago this applied to less than every tenth child.

The increase in the number of children born to immigrant women has happened despite of, not because of, the fertility trends among immigrant women. Immigrant women's fertility – measured as the average number of children per woman (total fertility rate) – has declined over the past decade, from 2.6 in 2000 to 2.1 in 2012.

One explanation for the decline in fertility among immigrant women may be that the composition of immigrants in Norway has changed after the EU expanded eastwards in 2004. However, the total fertility rate among immigrant women from eastern EU has increased significantly over the last decade and is now 2.0 children per woman – almost as high as the general fertility among all immigrant women.

A probably more important explanation is found among immigrant women from Asia, Africa, Latin America and to some extent from Europe outside the EU. These women’s fertility has decreased significantly during the last decade. The decline has been particularly noticeable among immigrant women from Asia, with almost one less child per woman.

Among women from Asia, Africa and Latin America there are two main findings: First, the fertility is highest right after arrival in Norway. As the duration of residency in Norway increases, the fertility decreases. Second, even among those with shortest duration of residency, fertility is now significantly lower than one or two decades ago. In other words, the newcomers today get substantially fewer children than the newcomers did earlier. This may be because fertility has declined in most parts of the world in recent decades. Immigrant women who came to Norway in 2012 thus traveled from countries that were characterized by a lower fertility compared to earlier.

There are large differences in fertility between women who immigrate as children and those who come after they have turned 18. The more of an immigrant woman’s adolescence that has been spent in Norway, the lower is her fertility. Also the fertility of immigrants’ Norwegian-born daughters is considerably lower than the fertility of immigrant women, and it also seems to be somewhat lower than for non-immigrants.

This report begins with a description of data and methodology, before describing the immigrants' demographic characteristics such as age structure, sex and where they live. The next chapter presents the fertility analyses. In the last chapter, research and analyses made by others about immigrants' mortality, migration and mobility patterns are summarized. According to these analyses, immigrants seem to have a lower mortality than the general population – which is often considered a paradox. Immigrants are significantly more likely to emigrate than the general population, especially if they originally came from other rich countries and/or are students or migrant workers. Lastly, immigrants tend to cluster in more centralized areas of Norway compared with the general population.

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