Understanding Settlement Pathways of African Immigrants in France Through a Capability Approach: Do Pre-migratory Characteristics Matter?

  • Anne Gosselin
  • Annabel Desgrées du Loû
  • Eva Lelièvre
  • France Lert
  • Rosemary Dray-Spira
  • Nathalie Lydié
  • the Parcours Study Group


With the increase in asylum-related immigration since 2015, understanding how immigrants settle in a new country is at the centre of social and political debate in European countries. The objective of this study is to determine whether the necessary time to settle for Sub-Saharan Africa immigrants in France depends more on pre-migratory characteristics or on the structural features of the host society. Taking a capability approach, we define settlement as the acquisition of three basic resources: a personal dwelling, a legal permit of a least 1 year and paid work. We use data from the PARCOURS survey, a life-event history survey conducted from 2012 to 2013 that collected 513 life histories of Sub-Saharan African immigrants living in France. Situations regarding housing, legal status and activity were documented year by year since the arrival of the respondent. We use a Kaplan–Meier analysis and chronograms to describe the time needed for settlement, first for each resource (personal dwelling, legal permit and paid work) and then for the combined indicator of settlement. Discrete-time logistic regressions are used to model the determinants of this settlement process. Overall, women and men require 6 and 7 years (medians), respectively, to acquire basic resources in France. This represents a strikingly long period of time in which immigrants lack basic security. The settlement process varies according to gender, but very few sociodemographic factors influence settlement dynamics. Therefore, the length of the settlement process may be due to structural features of the host society.


Settlement Migration Life-course approach Sub-Saharan immigrants France 



The authors would like to thank all the persons who participated in the study, the RAAC-Sida, COMEDE, FORIM and SOS hepatitis associations for their support in preparing and conducting the survey, G Vivier (INED) and A Gervais (AP-HP) for their support in preparing the questionnaire, H. Panjo for statistical support, A Guillaume for communication tools, the ClinSearch and Ipsos societies for data collection and staff at all participating centres.

The PARCOURS Study Group

The PARCOURS Study Group included A Desgrées du Loû, F Lert, R Dray Spira, N Bajos, N Lydié (scientific coordinators), J Pannetier, A Ravalihasy, A Gosselin, E Rodary, D Pourette, J Situ, P Revault, P Sogni, J Gelly, Y Le Strat, N Razafindratsima.


This study was supported by the French National Agency for research on AIDS and Viral hepatitis (ANRS) and the General Directorate of Health (DGS, French Ministry of Health). The sponsor of the study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation or writing of the paper.

Supplementary material

10680_2017_9463_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (253 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 253 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CEPEDUMR Université Paris Descartes, IRD, InsermParisFrance
  2. 2.INEDParisFrance
  3. 3.IRDMarseilleFrance
  4. 4.UMRS 1136INSERM - Sorbonne Universités UPMCParisFrance
  5. 5.Santé Publique FranceSaint-DenisFrance

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