On the timing of marriage and childbearing: family formation pathways among immigrants in Switzerland

Julie Lacroix*, Julia Mikolai, Hill Kulu

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper examines childbearing in and outside of marriage as a manifestation of the Second Demographic Transition among immigrant populations in Switzerland. Based on full-population register data, we simultaneously analyse fertility and partnership changes at different stages of the migration process. Results from a multistate event history model show that most of the differences in family formation patterns between migrant groups and natives are in the sequencing of marriage and first birth among childless unmarried women. Out of wedlock family trajectories prove to be a common experience for European migrants, but a sustainable family pathway only among natives, as well as among immigrants from France, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Among married women, it is the risk of a third birth that marks the differences between groups; first and second birth rates are relatively similar across migrant groups. Distinguishing between the transition patterns of newly arrived immigrants and settled immigrants (characterised by various residence durations) support the disruption hypothesis among EU migrants and the interrelated life events hypothesis among non-EU groups. Family size and the partnership context of fertility highlight which family regime prevails in different population subgroups and the role that immigrants play in the Second Demographic Transition and family transformation in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Number of pages32
JournalEuropean Journal of Population
Early online date22 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 May 2024


  • Second demographic transition
  • Immigrants
  • Fertility
  • Marriage
  • Nonmarital childbearing


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