The family lives of children of immigrants in Norway

Across Europe, new generations of young migrant-background individuals are entering adulthood. The children of immigrants were either born in their countries of residence (the second-generation) or they immigrated as children (the 1.5- generation). They have thus been socialized within their countries of residence and share institutional contexts with majority populations. Will the children of immigrants to a larger degree than their immigrant parents cross some of the boundaries separating them from majority populations? This project studies one aspect of integration and adaptation into receiving societies, namely family behavior.

Project details

Project manager
Kenneth Aarskaug Wiik

Jennifer A. Holland, Erasmus University Rotterdam, University of Southampton

Gunn Elisabeth Birkelund, University of Oslo 


Norwegian Research Council, FRIPRO

Project term
1 June 2016 - 31 December 2021
Project status
Research field

About the Project

To date, European studies of the immigrant population's family formation behavior have mostly considered first-generation immigrants. The children of immigrants born in their countries of residence, on the other hand, have been so young that only a vague impression of their patterns of family formation has been gained so far. Although Norway is a comparatively "new" country of immigration, large groups of children of immigrants born in Norway are currently entering family formation ages.

To better understand our knowledge about the social and economic integration of immigrant-background populations, this project addresses the family behavior of second-generation immigrants using all-encompassing Norwegian register data. We aim to provide new insights by including unmarried cohabitation and immigrant-background individuals from a wide array of countries-of-origin. By comparing the behaviors of the second-generation with those of their parental generation, we aim to increase our understanding of changes across time.

The project consists of three research topics, each dealing with different aspects of the family behavior of the second-generation and their demographic and socioeconomic implications, grasping the increasing diversity of family life in Norway.

First, we investigate the timing and mode of entry into family life and subsequent partnership transitions, as well as partner choice in marital and cohabiting unions, thus getting closer to a complete picture of the family lives of the children of immigrants.

In a second research topic, we assess how the immigrant-background composition of couples as well as partners’ countries of origin is linked to both the transition into parenthood and continued childbearing as well as union dissolution.

Finally, as family behavior is not only a measure of social integration, but also potentially influences economic integration processes, we address associations between timing of family formation, partner choice and subsequent education and labor market participation. Notably, we assess differences across migrant generations and gender, providing essential knowledge about mechanisms of integration.


Manuscripts under preparation

  • Bergsvik, J. and Wiik, K. Aa. Family life pathways and labor market participation among the children of immigrants in Norway.

  • Wiik, K. Aa. and Bergsvik, J. Partner choice and the labor market outcomes of immigrants and their children in Norway.

  • Dommermuth, L. and Wiik. K. Aa. Transition to parenthood among descendants of immigrants in Norway.

  • Dommermuth, L., Holland, J. and Wiik, K. Aa. The housing situation of young couples in Norway: Variations by immigration background.