Tom Kleinepier presents his paper 'Life paths of migrants', co-authored by Helga de Valk and Ruben van Gaalen in Parallel session I(C) of the conference Examining Migration Dynamics: Networks and Beyond, 24-26 Sept 2013
Polish migration to the Netherlands has increased substantially over the past decade and is one of the main origins of migrants settling in the country nowadays. Nevertheless, still little is known on how migration affects the lives of these migrants in the family domain and what decisions are made by these migrants. In this study, we use register data from Statistics Netherlands to examine to what extent migration affects the timing (“when”) and sequencing (“in what order”) of family-life transitions. The majority of studies on family-life transitions of migrants exclusively focus on one transition only, which is unfortunate as different events in the life course are not separate experiences but are linked to one another. Therefore, we apply a more holistic approach by using sequence analysis. More specifically, we apply optimal matching (OM) analysis to assess (dis-)similarities between individual life trajectories. We then use standard clustering algorithms to group the different individuals into predominant life paths. In this way we can include multiple transitions in the family domain (union formation, marriage, childbirth, divorce) simultaneously and study life courses as meaningful units. We will investigate the relationship between these trajectories to both migration and return migration. Our analyses focus on young adult Polish labour migrants from two birth cohorts (aged 22 and 26 at migration) who came to the Netherlands in 2004. Data come from a rich individual administrative panel database that covers the entire population of the Netherlands: the Social Statistical Database (SSD) housed by Statistics Netherlands. Data are available for the period 2004-2011 and include detailed information on the place of residence in the Netherlands. The latter allows us to assess the relative importance of the neighborhood and the potential effects of the ethnic network on life paths.