Having children at a distance: transnational family constitution among male migrants to France since the 1960s

Tatiana Eremenko, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

International migrants are portrayed either as individuals making a unidirectional move, settling permanently in the destination country and bringing their families, or constantly mobile persons evolving in transnational spaces. However migrants’ family histories draw a more complex picture. Since the 1960s male migrants arriving in France found themselves living separately from their spouses for years. One consequence of the immigrants’ transnational family lives was the fact of having children born in their country of origin while they were residing abroad. This paper analyses the extent of this phenomenon and how it varies among different groups of migrants, as well as the factors determining this behavior. Descriptive statistics and event history models are applied to two survey samples of migrants residing in France: MGIS (1992) and TeO (2008). The phenomenon of having children at a distance seems to have decreased significantly over the last decades, suggesting that migrants families in the past lived in a transnational space than at present. This behavior is also correlated with other transnational practices such as having a property in country of origin or frequent visits there.

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Presented in Session 17: Family formation among migrants