Fertility comparisons between migrant and non-migrant women in rural South Africa: arguing for a life course perspective

Gayatri Singh, Brown University
Jill Williams, University of Colorado at Boulder
Mark Collinson, University of the Witwatersrand

This paper proposes to investigate the differences in the fertility outcomes (age at first birth, quantum of children and birth spacing) between temporary (circular) labor migrant women and permanent resident women in rural South Africa. The work is located at the intersection of two literatures: social structuring of the life course influencing adult life-event outcomes, and demographic literature on determinants of fertility. From the life course theorists, we borrow the view that interactions between individual agency and structural elements of a social system can generate divergent pathways, analyzable via inter-group comparisons. On the fertility end, we situate the analysis within the well established framework of four hypotheses: selectivity, separation, adaptation and socialization. Modeling migration as a time varying covariate, we examine its effect on fertility as played out in period versus cohort effects. Particular attention is given to the historical legacies of apartheid in shaping rural women’s migration patterns.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility, family and children