Ethnicity and intergenerational differentials in family formation patterns

Siew-Ean Khoo, Australian National University

The integration of immigrants and their children is an important research and policy issue in countries that have been the recipients of migrants of diverse ethnic backgrounds in the past and recent years. The family formation behaviour of immigrants and the second generation can be seen as an important indicator of their social and cultural integration as it reflects the extent of maintenance of social norms, ethnic family values and cultural identity. The paper examines the family formation patterns of the first and second generations in Australia – a country of immigration – using data from the 2006 population census. Measures of family formation that are examined include the timing of first marriage, the extent of partnering by unmarried cohabitation and intermarriage, the age pattern of childbearing and fertility outcomes. Comparisons by ethnic origin and across generations will highlight the extent of convergence with the family formation behaviour shown by Australians who are of the third or more generations. The implications of the observed ethnic and generational differences for the social and cultural integration of immigrants and the second generation will be discussed.

Presented in Session 55: Union formation of migrants: antecedents and consequences