Leaving for life: Using online crowd-sourced genealogies to estimate the migrant mortality advantage for the United Kingdom and Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries

Elena Pojman1, Duke Mwedzi2, Orlando Olaya Bucaro3, Stephanie Zhang4, Michael Chong5, Monica Alexander5, Diego Alburez-Gutierrez6
1Pennsylvania State University, 2Cornell University, 3International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, 4UCLA, 5University of Toronto, 6Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Demographic studies consistently find a mortality advantage among migrants, but data availability challenges have limited the historical study of international migration. To address this gap, we use the crowd-sourced online genealogical database Familinx to estimate the migrant mortality advantage for migrants from the United Kingdom and Ireland between 1750 and 1910. We compare age at death for non-migrants and migrants to Canada, the United States of America, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia using mixed-effects regression models that account for unobserved factors shared between siblings. Results suggest a migrant advantage of 5.9 years, 95% CI [5.7, 6.2] with migrants estimated to live an additional 2.6 [1.1, 4.0] – 8.7 [6.3, 11.2] years depending on the country of destination. This study contributes to the understanding of the migrant mortality advantage in a historical context and shows the potential for online genealogies to contribute to demographic research.