Nav: Home

Migrants face a trade-off between status and fertility

February 25, 2019

Researchers from the Universities of Helsinki, Turku and Missouri as well as the Family Federation of Finland present the first results from a new, extraordinarily comprehensive population-wide dataset that details the lives of over 160,000 World War II evacuees in terms of integration. The results demonstrate that migrants' integration into a host community involves a trade-off between gaining increased social status and having fewer children.

Evacuees from Karelia, a region ceded by Finland to the Soviet Union during World War II, had the unfortunate fate of having to evacuate from their home twice in the space of a few years. Evacuees fled to western Finland at the beginning of the war, but then many of them returned to their homes for 2 - 3 years when the territory was recaptured by Finland, only to have to evacuate again at the end of the war.

"This exceptional historical event provides a natural experiment, which allowed us to analyse the likelihood of various social groups returning to their natal communities when offered the opportunity," explains Robert Lynch, the first author of the article from the University of Turku, Finland.

The data also allowed a comparison between people who chose to return home with those that did not as they lived side by side in post-war western Finland.

Evacuees who returned to their homes after initial evacuation had more children after the war than those evacuees who stayed in western Finland for the entire war. It appears that the stronger bond to their natal community and the social and familial ties that come with it had a positive effect on fertility. However, after their second evacuation they were less likely to integrate and intermarry with people in western Finland, consequently missing out on opportunities to increase their social status.

On the other hand, the evacuees who stayed in western Finland for the entire war ended up having fewer children, but they intermarried with the host population in western Finland at a higher rate and thus, were more likely to increase their social status.

Like many migrants and refugees today the world over, the evacuees in the study faced choices between keeping strong social bonds with their natal communities and fellow migrants and integrating to form relationships that bridge the differences between groups. The research shows that the choices made had real consequences for the migrants' future fertility and socioeconomic status.

"Together, these results have important implications for understanding the migrant experience today and can be useful background knowledge for policy makers desiring to promote social cohesion," says John Loehr, senior author on the article from the University of Helsinki, Finland.

More broadly, however, these results can be viewed from a cultural and evolutionary perspective that considers the importance of balancing the human predisposition for tribalism and our need to have distinctive group level identities with the need for social cohesion. In other words, the degree to which people prioritize their own ethnic group, culture, family or region vs the importance they place on building new relationships and bridges with people from different groups and backgrounds impacts their life course, the opportunities they are likely to encounter and how they interact with others.
-end-


University of Helsinki

Related Fertility Articles:

Fertility preservation for children with differences of sex development
Article explores unique ethical issues for children with differences of sex development on whether or not they should pursue fertility preservation.
In roundworms, fats tip the scales of fertility
Two University of Colorado Boulder scientists have discovered how fat levels in a tiny soil-dwelling roundworm (C. elegans) can tip the balance between whether the worm makes eggs or sperm.
Fertility can hinge on swimming conditions in the uterus
A Washington State University researcher has found that the uterus in female mice contains enzymes that can break down semen, making it less gel-like, more watery, and therefore easier to swim in.
Ladies, this is why fertility declines with age
Researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center (CRCHUM) have discovered a possible new explanation for female infertility.
Many transgender individuals consider their fertility important, survey shows
Nearly one-fourth of transgender individuals in Toronto, Canada, regard their own fertility as important, but most lack knowledge regarding and access to reproductive options, a new survey finds.
A rapid, automated and inexpensive fertility test for men
Scientists have developed a low-cost and easy-to-use smartphone attachment that can quickly and accurately evaluate semen samples for at-home fertility testing, providing a potentially helpful resource for the more than 45 million couples worldwide who are affected by infertility.
Cows may offer clues to improving fertility in women
A Michigan State University researcher has received a $1.65 million grant that looks to bring a better understanding about fertility treatments in women by studying the effect of hormones on ovulation and reproduction in cows.
Men have a lot to learn about their own fertility
The first large-scale study of its kind has revealed that Canadian men generally lack knowledge about the risk factors contributing to male infertility.
Spinning semen provides a measurement of fertility
The maths of collective behavior has provided a new technique for selecting the best semen for artificial insemination in livestock.
Control of fertility: A new player identified
Individual small RNAs are responsible for controlling the expression of gonadoliberin or GnRH (Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone), a neurohormone that controls sexual maturation, the appearance of puberty, and fertility in adults.

Related Fertility Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Setbacks
Failure can feel lonely and final. But can we learn from failure, even reframe it, to feel more like a temporary setback? This hour, TED speakers on changing a crushing defeat into a stepping stone. Guests include entrepreneur Leticia Gasca, psychology professor Alison Ledgerwood, astronomer Phil Plait, former professional athlete Charly Haversat, and UPS training manager Jon Bowers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".