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Family ties that bind: A new view of internal migration, immobility and labour-market outcomes

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - FamilyTies (Family ties that bind: A new view of internal migration, immobility and labour-market outcomes)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2022-02-28

Internal migration (long-distance moves within national borders) is generally assumed to be beneficial to individuals and households. The FamilyTies project has been designed to make a decisive contribution to a much more comprehensive explanation of internal migration and its individual labour-market outcomes than current, mainly economic, explanations have achieved thus far. It introduces a novel perspective on internal migration and immobility, which focuses on the role of family outside the household in deciding on whether and where to relocate, and which takes into account contemporary family complexity: the family ties perspective. The aim is to identify the role of family ties in internal migration, immobility and labour-market outcomes.
Based on statistical analyses of official register and census data for Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as analyses of survey questionnaires and in-depth interviews for several European countries and the USA, the project will provide major new insights into migration, immobility and labour-market outcomes. Important for societies, the project will also provide input for better predictions and policies concerning migration, population growth and decline, ethnic segregation, labour-market flexibility and family support.
The project has four objectives, to be reached in four subprojects. Subprojects 1, 2 and 3 are in a further stage of progress than subproject 4, but results have been achieved for all subprojects.
Subproject 1. Identifying the role of family ties as a deterrent of migration and key determinant of immobility
Previous research has indicated that those who have family members living close by are less likely to migrate than those who did not. FamilyTies results show that this effect is partly explained by frequent contact with the parents, and also partly by support exchange. Among separated parents, non-resident children living close by formed an important deterrent of migration. Young adults who migrated to large Swedish cities were less likely to return to the home region if a sibling lived in the city of residence. Those whose parents and grandparents were born in the region where they were also born themselves were much more likely to stay in their region of birth than others. We found a negative effect of having a non-resident child living nearby on the likelihood of moving to institution (mostly older people’s homes) among older adults, particularly for mothers. Conversely, close relationships between parents and children are associated with a greater likelihood that the child moves out of the parental home, suggesting that such relationships can help launch children into adulthood.

Subproject 2. Explaining migration towards family in relation to migration in other directions
The common idea about long-distance moves is that they are mainly directed towards centres of jobs and education. FamilyTies results show that non-resident family also forms an important attraction factor for migration. This attractiveness is strengthened if multiple family members lived in the same area, and increases with the occurrence of life events typically linked to increased support‐needs (separation, widowhood, and childbirth).
Although emotional attachment appears to be high among people in living-apart-together (LAT) relationships, findings indicated a limited belief and interest in life-long partnerships. Separated and widowed mothers in LAT relationships were less likely to start living with their LAT partner than childless women who had previously been living with a partner. Mothers who had previous children who were born when they lived without a partner were even less likely to start living with their LAT partner. When partners start living together, it is more common for women to move in with their male partner than vice versa, and women move longer distances.

Subproject 3. Determining to what extent and for whom family-related motives drive migration and immobility
Just like for directions of migration, the common idea for motivations is also that they are related to work or education. FamilyTies results show that family motives are just as important to migration as employment motives. This was found for the UK, Australia and Sweden. The desire to live closer to non‐resident family or friends was the most frequently cited family motive in a survey for the UK. Non-resident family is a particularly important migration motive for women, those with children and widowed individuals. In a Swedish survey, more than half of the moves closer to family were indeed motivated by family reasons.

Subproject 4. Unravelling how individual labour-market outcomes of migration versus immobility differ between (im)mobility related to family ties and (im)mobility due to other factors
According to FamilyTies results, family-motivated migration is associated with worse labour market outcomes than moves for employment or other reasons: Those who migrate to be closer to non-resident family report more frequently that their income or working conditions worsened after a move. However, among those who were unemployed before moving, those who reported family motives were significantly more likely to be employed after the move than those who reported other motives. These results indicate a two-sided role of moves to be closer to family: For some, such moves seem to be associated with sacrifices in the labour-market career, while for others the family may function as a social resource – for example by providing help in finding a job or offering an opportunity to work in a family business.