Incidence and duration of child-parent separation due to international migration. Selection and integration effects

Cris Beauchemin, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Amparo Gonzalez-Ferrer, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Pau Baizán, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra

In the process of migration, families undergo profound transformations that are often complicated by extended periods of separation between loved ones. Governments of receiving countries frequently trumpet their concerns about the potential multiplier effect of family-linked migration and periodically restrict new immigration grounded on family ties. In contrast, immigrants’ associations and officials from the sending countries often complaint about the tedious procedure of family reunification, and emphasize transnationalism as an increasingly common family arrangement. Yet, the empirical data to support any of these two positions is extremely limited and weak. In this paper we examine the incidence and duration of child-parent separations among Senegalese migrants, by utilizing the recently released data from the EU Project “Migrations between Africa and Europe” (MAFE). Our findings indicate that child-parent separation due to international migration is not a negligible issue for the Senegalese population. In 2007, approximately 16 percent of Senegalese children had been separated from one or both parents for at least one year during their childhood as a result of parental migration to Europe. Quite surprisingly, this percentage goes up to 31 if we focus exclusively on children of Senegalese origin born in Europe, which suggest a great deal of transnational practices among Senegalese migrants. In addition, these separations are relatively long, especially if the absent parent is the father. We examine the factors that affect the probability of ending child-parent separations, and whether these vary depending on the place where the separation ends, Europe or Senegal, by means of multinomial event history models. The preliminary results suggest important differences between the families in which parents decide to end separation from their children by returning to Senegal, and those who decide to bring the children to Europe.

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Presented in Session 18: Return migration