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Understanding Life Trajectories of Immigrants and Their Descendants in Europe and Projecting Future Trends

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MigrantLife (Understanding Life Trajectories of Immigrants and Their Descendants in Europe and Projecting Future Trends)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

In recent decades, European countries have witnessed increasing immigration streams and ethnic heterogeneity of their populations. Facilitating immigrant integration and social cohesion has become a major societal issue. The project moves beyond previous research by first investigating how employment, housing and family trajectories evolve and interact in the lives of immigrants and their descendants in the UK, France, Germany and Sweden, and how factors related to a societal context, an early life context and critical transitions shape their life histories. Second, the study projects their future life trajectories using innovative computer simulation techniques, considering the main life domains and diversity between and within immigrant groups. Although recent studies report substantial diversity in employment, in housing and in family patterns among immigrants and their descendants in Europe, the causes of this heterogeneity remain far from clear. Furthermore, it is not known whether observed differences between immigrants and natives are short-term outcomes in a long-term process of cultural and economic integration or rather reflections of different pathways and outcomes for immigrants and their descendants. The project exploits large-scale longitudinal data from four countries and applies advanced longitudinal methods, including multichannel sequence analysis and multilevel event history analysis. Microsimulation is applied to project life histories for immigrants and their descendants. The project will significantly deepen our understanding of the relationships between the three life domains, and the causes of less and more successful life trajectories among immigrants and their descendants. This project will show whether the current heterogeneity between and within immigrant and minority groups vanishes over time or rather persists, suggesting an increasing diversity of European societies.
During the first reporting period (1/9/19-28/2/21) the project team secured access to longitudinal data from four countries, checked data quality, prepared data for analysis and analysed data for the first subproject, which investigates partnership and childbearing trajectories among immigrants and their descendants. The team prepared six drafts for case studies, published two review papers, and conducted data analysis for a comparative study. The team also presented the results at conferences and seminars.

Deliverables of the first 18 months of the project include:
A. Completed papers (3)
1. Delaporte, I., Kulu, H. (2021). Interaction between childbearing and partnership changes among immigrants and their descendants: An application of multichannel sequence analysis to longitudinal data from France. MigrantLife Working Paper 2.
2. Andersson G. (2021). Family behavior of migrants: An overview. In: Research Handbook on the Sociology of the Family. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 263-277.
3. Keenan, K., Kulu, H., Cox, F. (2021). Social and spatial inequalities in health and mortality: The analysis of longitudinal register data from selected European countries. Population, Space and Place (accepted).
B. Draft papers (5)
4. Mikolai, J., Kulu, H. The intersection of partnership and fertility histories of immigrants and their descendants in the United Kingdom: A multistate approach.
5. Liu, C., Kulu, H. First comes marriage or first comes carriage? Family processes as competing trajectories for immigrants in Germany.
6. Campbell, B., Andersson, G., Kulu, H. Fertility timing and levels of first-generation and second-generation immigrants in Sweden.
7. Delaporte, I., Kulu, H. Analysing childbearing events using machine learning techniques: An application of Random Survival Forest to French data.
8. Koops, J., Kulu, H., Hannemann, T. Nonmarital fertility and postponement of parenthood among immigrants and their descendants in the UK.
C. Data analysis for a comparative study
D. Invited seminars and conference presentations (6)
1. Invited presentation at National Records of Scotland, 31 January 2020.
2. Four presentations at the Annual Meeting of the British Society for Population Studies (BSPS); 14-16 September 2020; please see at: https://migrantlife.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/conferences/.
3. Invited presentation at the University of Florence, 1 April 2021.

Our research shows significant diversity in family patterns among immigrants and their descendants in Europe. The Caribbean population in the UK and Southern Europeans in France and Germany show family patterns similar to those of the natives: many of them cohabit prior to marriage; some experience union dissolution; some have a birth outside of a union. In contrast, South Asians in the UK and the Turkish population in France, Germany and Sweden exhibit conservative family behaviour: they have high marriage and low separation levels; childbearing outside of marriage is uncommon. Differences between migrant groups persist even when adjusting for education and number of siblings. These findings suggest that cultural and normative factors shape family behaviours of immigrants and their descendants, and that some patterns may persist across migrant generations (e.g. preference for marriage among South Asians in the UK).
The novel contribution of this project is twofold. First, the project investigates how employment, housing and family trajectories evolve and interact as dynamically interrelated trajectories in the lives of immigrants and their descendants; how factors related to a societal context (e.g. integration and welfare policies), an early life context (e.g. childhood socialisation environment, parental background) and critical transitions (e.g. first employment, union and/or own housing) shape their life histories; and the degree of cumulative (dis)advantage in their life trajectories. Previous research has investigated employment, family and housing patterns of immigrants and their descendants as separate life domains; they have not been studied as dynamically interrelated trajectories, which influence each other and may be shaped by early life context, human capital, or state policies. Second, the study projects future life trajectories using innovative computer simulation techniques, which properly consider individual heterogeneity. Previous research has estimated the size of future immigration and minority populations in Europe, but no study has projected life trajectories of immigrants and their descendants, considering the main life domains and diversity between and within migrant groups. Such a systematic projection exercise is novel and critical for developing an understanding of the long-term dynamics among immigrants and their descendants and the causes of these dynamics; this exercise is also important for an understanding of whether and how the life trajectories can be influenced by policies and how undesired trajectories can be avoided.
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