Fertility, Migration, and Altruism

Eli Berman, Zaur Rzakhanov

NBER Working Paper No. 7545
Issued in February 2000
NBER Program(s):   AG   CH   ITI   LS

Consider migration to a higher income region as a human capital investment in which parents bear migration costs and children share returns. Migrants from a population with heterogeneous intergenerational discount rates will be self-selected on intergenerational altruism. Thus, immigrants may be self-selected on fertility. Soviet Jews who migrate to Israel despite high migration costs have significantly more children than members of the same birth cohort who migrate later when costs are low. We distinguish selection from treatment effects using a comparison group of women who migrate after childbearing age. We also find that immigrants favor bequests more and spend more time with their grandchildren in the U.S. Health and Retirement Survey. Selection on altruism can explain why historically immigrant-absorbing countries like the U.S. have higher fertility than other countries at comparable income levels. It provides an alternative explanation for Chiswick's classic earnings-overtaking result. Selection on altruism also implies that immigrant-absorbing regions will grow faster, or have higher per capita income, or both.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7545

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