Paternity for Sale: Anxieties over “Demographic Theft” and Undocumented Migrant Reproduction in Germany


Women’s experiences of migration, and their relationship to a host country, vary significantly from those of migrant men simply because pregnancy is a possibility. The concept of “demographic theft” highlights popular anxieties regarding high fertility among foreigners, including undocumented migrants. This article examines pregnant undocumented women’s experiences with the health care system and relationship to the state in Germany. It also provides a discussion of how a restrictive immigration climate, particular models of citizenship, and liberal family laws have resulted in unique practices surrounding paternity claims. It is based on long-term ethnographic data to highlight contradictions and ambiguities in the policy environment and utilizes the notion of stratified reproduction to bring new evidence regarding mothers’ deportability and practices of paternity.

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