Attitudes toward Abortion for Medical and Non-medical Reasons among the Turkish Second Generation in Europe – The Role of the Family and Societal Contexts


  • Nadja Milewski University of Rostock, Institute of Sociology and Demography
  • Sarah Carol University of Cologne, Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology (ISS)



Abortion, Attitudes, Second generation, TIES, Turkish migrants


This paper studies attitudes toward abortion among the second generation of Turkish migrants and their native counterparts in six western and northern European countries. We focus on Turkish migrants because they not only constitute one of the largest immigrant groups, but are also hypothesised to be culturally and demographically very distinctive from the native group. We used data from the project on “The Integration of the European Second Generation (TIES 2007-08)” from Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland. The sample consisted of 4,761 respondents aged 18 to 35, 49.5 percent of whom were children of Turkish migrants born in Europe and 51.5 percent belonged to the respective non-migrant comparison groups. Unlike in other surveys, the question regarding attitudes toward abortion in the TIES questionnaire distinguished between “medical” and “non-medical” reasons for abortion, with the possible answers being “never”, “in specific cases” and “always”. We carried out multinomial logistic regression analyses and investigated three research questions: 1) Departing from assimilation theory, we examined whether the attitudes of migrant descendants differed from those of their non-migrant counterparts. Our results show that both groupings under study expressed a range of attitudes, and that abortion for medical reasons was more accepted than abortion for non-medical reasons. However, second-generation Turks were more likely than the natives to say that they would never accept abortion. 2) We investigated the extent to which the societal climate and the integration context of the respondents influenced their attitudes toward abortion, while assuming that we would find cross-country variation in these attitudes. Our results reveal that among natives, levels of acceptance of abortion are lowest in Germany and highest in Sweden and France. We found a similar country pattern for women and men of the second Turkish generation. 3) We explored the degree to which the respondents’ family contexts (childhood backgrounds as well as current socio-demographic variables) influenced their attitudes toward abortion. While these factors partially explained the variation within the Turkish second generation and within the native comparison group, the country differences remained significant. We conclude that attitudes toward abortion in the Turkish second generation are influenced by their family backgrounds, but also by their socialization experiences in European receiving countries. These findings suggest that cultural assimilation processes are occurring, but not to the point where the attitudes of migrant descendants have converged with the attitudes of natives in the respective destination country.


* This article belongs to a special issue on migrant fertility.




How to Cite

Milewski, N. and Carol, S. 2019. Attitudes toward Abortion for Medical and Non-medical Reasons among the Turkish Second Generation in Europe – The Role of the Family and Societal Contexts. Comparative Population Studies. 43, (Mar. 2019). DOI:



Research Articles