Academic journal article Demographic Research

Motherhood of Foreign Women in Lombardy: Testing the Effects of Migration by Citizenship

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Motherhood of Foreign Women in Lombardy: Testing the Effects of Migration by Citizenship

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

During the past few decades there has been a significant transformation of the foreign population in Italy, marked by a shift toward permanent settlement. This ongoing transformation has emerged owing to several indicators, often linked to the family sphere: the incidence of family reunifications, the increase in the number of births, the growing importance of foreign minors, and so on. The present paper focuses on the immigrant population's reproductive behavior, which is significant if we consider the Italian model of fertility to which immigrant women are increasingly contributing. It is generally known that Italian fertility is one of the lowest in the world (Delgado Perez and Livi Bacci 1992; Kohler, Billari, and Ortega 2002; Billari 2008) and that much of the slight increase recorded during the past few years is attributed to the presence of foreign women (Sobotka 2008; Ferrara et al. 2009; Istat 2010). Several studies in Italy have focused on foreigners' impact on the period total fertility rate (TFR) (Strozza, Ferrara, and Labadia 2007), and a few studies have analyzed the determinants and influence of migration on the propensity to have children in Italy (Mussino et al. 2012; Ortensi 2015). However, the international literature reveals a strong impact of the high risk of childbearing shortly after migration on period fertility (Alders 2000; Parrado 2011), thus establishing a link between reproductive behaviors and migratory transitions (Andersson 2004; Milewski 2007). Investigation of this interconnection in Italy has encountered difficulties. From a methodological perspective, despite the efforts made in recent years (Mussino et al. 2009; Mussino and Strozza 2012a, 2012b), official sources at the national level have not been able to provide sufficiently detailed data to allow an analysis of the migrant population's fertility; nor do they provide migratory characteristics or information on the couples' formation. Therefore, the present paper focuses on information provided by the Regional Observatory for Integration and Multi-ethnicity (ORIM, Osservatorio Regionale per l'Integrazione e la Multietnicità), derived from a sample survey carried out in Lombardy in 2010 (Blangiardo 2011, 2012), which takes into consideration the migratory and reproductive biographies of the interviewed women. The data concern a region that can be considered an "experimental laboratory' of migration trends in Italy, as Lombardy hosts about a quarter of the total foreign population living in the country and is one of the European regions with the highest foreign population, characterized by a growing share of stable foreign population and households (Riva and Zanfrini 2013). By employing these data and using a longitudinal approach it is possible to simultaneously follow the transitions to motherhood and to migration among foreign women living in Lombardy. The present study aims to analyze in more detail how time since migration affects motherhood, and the role played by the country or region of citizenship.

Section 2 briefly discusses the recent literature on these issues and analytically defines the research hypotheses. Section 3 presents the data and describes the methods used. Section 4 presents an analysis of the interviewees' fertility and migratory patterns. The main results are summarized in Section 5.

2. Theoretical background and hypotheses

During recent decades the reproductive behavior of immigrants has received much more attention from European researchers than previously. This interest, which is due to the demographic impact of immigrants' presence, has led to different hypotheses concerning immigrants' reproductive behaviors. Among these hypotheses the most discussed are adaptation, disruption, selection and socialization.6 However, in recent years a different approach has been developed that looks more closely at the interrelationship between events. The life course hypothesis assumes that there is interdependence between migration, union formation, and fertility (Mulder and Wagner 1993; Courgeau 1989). …

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