Academic journal article Demographic Research

Migration and First-Time Parenthood: Evidence from Kyrgyzstan

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Migration and First-Time Parenthood: Evidence from Kyrgyzstan

Article excerpt


This article investigates the reproductive behavior of young women and men in the post-Soviet Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, focusing on the link between migration and fertility. We employ event-history techniques to retrospective data from the 'Marriage, Fertility, and Migration' survey conducted in Northern Kyrgyzstan in 2005 to study patterns in first-time parenthood. We demonstrate the extent to which internal migration is related to family formation and to the patterns of becoming a parent after resettlement. We gain deeper insights into demographic behavior by considering information on factors such as the geographical destination of migration and retrospectively stated motives for reported moves. In addition, our study reveals clear ethno-cultural differences in the timing of entry into parenthood in Kyrgyzstan.

1. Introduction

Situated in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan shares the feature of being a post-Soviet republic experiencing various aspects of post-socialist economic, social, and political transformation with that of belonging to a group of countries that has ties in common with their Turkish linguistic and Moslem cultural roots. Its majority population, the Kyrgyz, is of Asian origin, but the country also has population subgroups of European origin, most of them ethnical Russians. As do other post-socialist societies, Kyrgyzstan experiences various features of family-demographic change that may be considered part of the so called 'Second Demographic Transition'. However, as in the other Central Asian republics, its majority population still has not completed its first demographic transition, making the country a very intriguing context for a study of familydemographic dynamics. In this paper, we provide some first insights into familyformation behavior in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan, paying particular attention to the interplay between migration and entry into parenthood among its different ethnocultural population subgroups.

Existing research on reproductive behavior and fertility in Kyrgyzstan is rather limited. A fairly well organized system of vital statistics and censuses provides general information on levels and trends in fertility, but the system appears to be underutilized: there are few publications on the topic. A particular shortcoming is the lack of specialized studies that address different specific features of the reproductive behavior in the country, such as those related to ethnic differentials in behavior and the interrelations of fertility dynamics with other life-course careers. Most issues concerning fertility in Kyrgyzstan still wait for rigorous examination. The transition to first-time parenthood is one of them, which we will examine more closely in this study by analyzing the impact of different socio-demographic factors on the propensity to become a parent. Previous studies on Kyrgyzstan have mainly employed aggregate statistics and focused on topics such as the influence of socio-economic factors and socio-economic change on general fertility (Ryspaev 1972, Kumskova 1983, Sarygulov 2001, Nedoluzhko 2003, Denisenko 2004) or ethno-regional differentials in fertility levels (Sifman 1974, Bondarskaya 1978, Jones and Grupp 1987). We, however, will use individual-level data to study the role of migration in family formation and the timing of childbirth. By looking at the reproductive behavior of migrants and non-migrants in Kyrgyzstan, we aim at gaining deeper insights into Kyrgyz first-birth behavior in general and, more specifically, into the dynamic interactions of migration and reproduction. The latter issue has been studied for many other settings, some of them covered in contributions to the present Collection of Demographic Research, but it has never been examined in the context of Kyrgyzstan.

Our article is organized as follows. First we provide an overview of recent developments in terms of fertility and migration in Kyrgyzstan. Then we present the theory and hypotheses that have guided our analyses, and discuss our data, the study population, and the methodology we apply. …

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