The Transition to Adulthood Among Children of Immigrants in the Netherlands: Examining Birth Cohort Effects

Helga de Valk, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW)
Gusta Wachter, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

Like in many European countries, an increasing share of the (young) population born in the Netherlands has foreign born parents. Although the transition to adulthood among this second generation has been studied, this group has mainly been treated as homogeneous. Among the majority group cohort differences regarding demographic transitions to adulthood have been found, yet this aspect has been ignored for children of immigrants. Cohort differences might, however, be particularly relevant for this group since they are socialized within two cultures and therefore have to negotiate between different expectations concerning the transition to adulthood. Several second generation cohorts have recently entered adulthood, enabling us to not only compare them to majority group peers but to also examine changes within the second generation. The main research question is therefore: To what extent do family life transitions in young adulthood differ between second generation cohorts?

Due to bi-cultural socialization, transitioning patterns of the second generation are likely to differ from natives. Yet, this difference is expected to decrease with successive cohorts since younger birth cohorts might benefit from the negotiations conducted by preceding cohorts. Our study tests these assumptions for young adults with different migrant backgrounds, including those of Moroccan, Turkish, Surinamese and Antillean descent. We focus on patterns in leaving the parental home, entering unmarried cohabitation, age at first marriage and age at first child of three birth cohorts (’81-’85, ‘86-90’ and ’91-’95).

Our analyses are based on full population data from the Netherlands. Our longitudinal data from the System of social statistical datasets (SSD) cover 1999 until 2015 and link population registers with other registers and surveys. These individual level data thus capture a wide range of background characteristics (including socio-economic and demographic variables) but also allow to consider differences between second generation with one and two foreign born parents.

Presented in Session 72: The Transition to Adulthood Among Immigrant Youth