CORDIS - EU research results

Families of migrant origin: a life course perspective

Final Report Summary - FAMILIFE (Families of migrant origin: a life course perspective)

The project “ Families of Migrant origin: a Life course perspective” (FaMiLife) aims to advance our understanding of the factors that shape the individual life course of migrants, its consequences for family relations in migrant families and its link with demographic change in the country of settlement and origin. Migration is one of the major factors in population change in Europe today. Nevertheless a more comprehensive understanding of the life course and population dynamics in migrant families is still largely lacking. This project aimed to provide this more complete picture by comparing migrants of different origins and residing in different European settlement countries. We make innovative use of both survey and register data to address the four main questions. First we want to get a comprehensive understanding of population dynamics in migrant populations by studying the life course trajectories of international migrants and their descendants in Europe compared to the native populations and to those of different migrant origin. Second, we not only study the causes but also the consequences of life course decisions for the individual and families of migrant origin. Third, different life phases are linked to intergenerational ties by explaining changes in intergenerational support attitudes and behaviour in, and between, families of different migrant and native origin. Fourth, it is often assumed that migrants adapt their lives after migration without taking into account changes and dynamics in life courses in the origin countries. We however relate population dynamics and change in the countries of origin and settlement by comparing the life course patterns of international migrants in Europe to non-migrants in the countries of origin.

Findings from the project indicate that life course perspectives and decisions of migrants are affected to a large extent by the country in which they settle. This is e.g. true for labour force participation of women but also the case regarding views on ideal ages for making the transition to marriage and parenthood and intergenerational support. Contrary to what is often thought differences in life course choices and views between migrants and the majority group within one country are overall found to be rather small. Furthermore, we found that not only family but in particularly also peers are an important factor in life course decisions of young adults. Composition of the peer group network is of crucial relevance for the lives of young adults including those of migrant origin. In addition, family life choices of migrants are clearly linked and variety in life paths exists also among migrants from the same origin country. The findings suggests that among non-western migrant groups there is an increased dichotomy in lives between those who follow a more traditional path with early marriage and childbearing and those who don’t which seems mainly related to attained educational levels. Our work on migrants of European origin showed that also this group faces substantial challenges when it comes to their social relations after migration. Indicating that migration is a stressful event with major consequences for well-being and social relations of the individual person. The wider social network is key for successful integration, relationship satisfaction and wellbeing. Our work furthermore showed that it is key to take a multidimensional view on family relations. At the same time similar types of parent-child relations are found among those of the majority group and those of migrant origin. The results reveal that in particular emotional bonds between parent and child are crucial among families of all origins.