This paper reviews recent research on family dynamics among immigrants and their descendants in Europe. While there is a large body of literature on various aspects of immigrant lives in Europe, research on family dynamics has emerged only in the last decade. Studies based on individual-level longitudinal data and disaggregated measures of partnership and fertility behaviour have significantly advanced our understanding of the factors shaping family patterns among immigrants and their descendants and have contributed to research on immigrant integration. By drawing on recent research, this paper proposes several ways of further developing research on ethnic minority families. We emphasise the need to study family changes among immigrants and their descendants over their life courses, investigate various modes of family behaviour and conduct more truly comparative research to deepen our understanding of how ethnic minorities structure their family lives in different institutional and policy settings.
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The following journals were included: Demography; European Journal of Population; Demographic Research; Population Studies; Population, Space and Place; Population; International Migration Review; Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies; Journal of Marriage and the Family; Advances in Life Course Research; European Sociological Review.
Bi-national marriages are commonly defined as marriages between individuals that hold different nationalities in their passports. The most common situation refers to a couple in which one spouse is a citizen of the country of residence and the other is not. However, the term is also used for marriages where one spouse is born in the country of residence and the other was born abroad, regardless of their current nationalities. In contrast, the term mixed marriage is commonly utilized to refer to bi-cultural marriages, regardless of the spouses’ nationality and country of birth. Bi-national couples are not necessarily bi-cultural, and some of the couples who do not appear in the statistics on bi-national relationships (because both partners are of the same nationality or even born in the same country) are of course bicultural. Ideally, these two types of marriages should be distinguished because nationality and ethnic origin often do not overlap in migration contexts. However, a detailed look at statistical realities illustrates how complex it is to count and separate one from each other, and especially to run cross-national comparisons when national statistical systems utilize different classification criteria. For this reason, and accordingly with the cross-national approach of our review, in this article we will include studies that utilised both definitions.
We say “in principle” because nationality and ethnic origin do not necessarily coincide in the migration context. A marriage between two Turkish nationals in Germany might not be an endogamous marriage if, for instance, one of the partners is Kurd and the other is not. However, these qualifications are commonly omitted.
We thank one of the referees who drew our attention to the importance of the distinction between the ‘marriage of immigrants’ and the ‘marriage migration’ and its implications.
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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under Grant Agreement no. 320116 for the research project FamiliesAndSocieties.
We are also grateful for Frances Goldscheider, Allan Puur, Gunnar Andersson and two anonymous referees for their valuable comments and suggestions on a previous version of this article.
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Kulu, H., González-Ferrer, A. Family Dynamics Among Immigrants and Their Descendants in Europe: Current Research and Opportunities. Eur J Population 30, 411–435 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-014-9322-0