European Journal of Population

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 155–179 | Cite as

Life Paths of Migrants: A Sequence Analysis of Polish Migrants’ Family Life Trajectories

  • Tom KleinepierEmail author
  • Helga A. G. de Valk
  • Ruben van Gaalen


After Poland’s accession to the European Union in 2004, Polish migration within Europe has increased considerably. Still, little is known about this large and growing group of immigrants. Using unique panel data from the Dutch population registers, we first apply sequence analysis to explore and describe the variety of family life courses among young adult (aged 20–30 at migration) Polish migrants in the Netherlands. Each individual family life career is followed for a 5-year period on a monthly time base. Optimal matching analysis is applied to compute (dis)similarities between individuals, in order to cluster into predominant life paths. Second, a series of logistic regression analyses were carried out to determine the main factors of importance on the different family life paths. Findings showed a strong impact of the partner’s origin on the type of union and likelihood of return migration. Unemployment was found to be another important trigger of return migration. With regard to gender differences, we found that men are more likely to remain single and to leave the Netherlands at some point, while women more often cohabit and tend to stay.


Polish migrants Family events Return migration Sequence analysis Intra-European mobility 



This work is part of and financed by the European Research Council, Starting Grant project (number 26.38.29) “Families of Migrant origin: a Life course perspective” (FaMiLife) awarded to H.A.G. de Valk. The authors gratefully acknowledge the valuable comments and suggestions by the two anonymous reviewers and the guest editors of the Special Issue.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Kleinepier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helga A. G. de Valk
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ruben van Gaalen
    • 3
  1. 1.Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)/KNAW/University of GroningenThe HagueThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Interface DemographyVrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB)BrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Statistics Netherlands (CBS)The HagueThe Netherlands

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