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Marriage, Divorce & Cohabitation

Partnership patterns of migrants and their descendants
Source: Stadtratte

Much research has been dedicated to the family patterns of immigrants in Europe, but there are few cross-national comparisons. Tina Hannemann (University of Manchester), Hill Kulu (University of St Andrews), Amparo González-Ferrer (Spanish National Research Council, CSIC Madrid), Ariane Pailhé (Institut National d'Études Démographiques, INED), Leen Rahnu (University of Tallinn) and Allan Puur (University of Tallinn) investigated marriage, divorce, and cohabitation habits among immigrants and their descendants in four very different European countries: the UK, Spain, France, and Estonia. Their analysis demonstrated significant heterogeneity in partnership behaviour across migrant groups both within the same country and across the four European countries. At the same time, immigrants from countries with more conservative family norms demonstrated similar partnership behaviours across country boarders. While the authors expected the descendants of immigrants - the second generation - to exhibit partnership patterns between those of their parents’ and those of their respective native population, their results actually demonstrate significant similarity for some second-generation migrant groups. Others, such as the Russian-speaking population in Estonia, marry at similar rates across generations, but divorce at rates between that of their immigrant parents and that of native Estonians. All in all, the authors’ results indicate significant complexity in partnership patterns. This variety in family formation behaviour could be an indicator of cultural diversity, poor integration, or the influence of a range of economic, cultural, and legal circumstances which differ for each migrant group. Yet the authors also show that country context matters: even amongst such heterogeneity, there were similarities in partnership patterns between the UK and France, which are more culturally similar, and migrant groups demonstrated country-specific partnership patterns in Estonia (where non-traditional partnership patterns are more common) and Spain (where marriage is more common).

Author(s) of the original publication: 
Emily Frank