Born to move? Birth order and emigration
There is an extant literature on how birth order relates to various health and educational outcomes. A general find is that later-born siblings perform worse than earlier-born siblings. A number of potential explanations to these interrelations have been suggested, whereof some relate to the argument that siblings occupy different niches within the family. A particularly influential hypothesis, originally framed by Sulloway (1996), is that the within-family dynamics create more risk-taking and rebellious later-born children. Since migration, and particularly migration abroad, is a form of risk-taking, one would expect that it depends on birth order. This paper is the first to analyse this issue. We use data on the entire population of Finnish-born sibling groups in the cohorts 1970-2002. These persons are observed with regard to the first emigration from Finland in ages 18-25 years. The total number of siblings, sibling groups, and first-time moves abroad is 1,352,908, 549,842, and 31,192, respectively. We adopt a sibling fixed effects approach, meaning that within-family variation only, and not between-family variation, is analysed. Cox regressions stratified by each sibling group show that, as compared to first-borns, second-borns have a hazard of emigration that is 1.07, third-born 1.09, and fourth-born 1.12. This pattern is particularly marked for migration to European countries other than the Nordics. We also find that within the sibling groups, young women have a hazard of emigration that is more than twice higher as compared to young men. Living with siblings at age 17, in a less stable family, and in an economically disadvantaged household also increase the hazard of emigration. We argue that, in order to understand why persons emigrate, sibling fixed effects analysis of this kind may be highly useful, as they minimise residual confounding from unmeasured time-invariant factors that are shared amongst members of the same family.
Jan Saarela (corresponding author), Åbo Akademi University, Demography Unit, Strandgatan 2, 65100 Vasa, Finland, +358 46 9219438, email@example.com