Academic journal article Demographic Research

Migration and Union Dissolution in a Changing Socio-Economic Context: The Case of Russia

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Migration and Union Dissolution in a Changing Socio-Economic Context: The Case of Russia

Article excerpt

Abstract

Previous studies show that family migration is usually to the benefit of the man's professional career and that it has a negative impact on the woman's economic well-being and employment. This study extends previous research by examining the effect of family migration on union dissolution. We use the event-history data of two retrospective surveys from Russia and apply hazard regression. The analysis shows that couples who move frequently over long distances have a significantly higher risk of union dissolution than couples who do not move or move only once. Our further analysis reveals that the risk of disruption for frequent movers is high when the migrant woman has a job. Frequent migrants had a high risk of union dissolution during the Soviet period but they faced no such risk during the post-Soviet socio-economic transition. We argue that frequent moving increases union instability through a variety of mechanisms, the effect of which may vary across socio-economic contexts.

1. Introduction

Previous studies show that family migration is usually to the benefit of the career of the male earner in the household and that family migration has a negative impact on the professional career and earnings of the women. Migrant women are less likely to be employed and they tend to have smaller incomes and work shorter hours than nonmigrant women of similar characteristics (Sandell 1977, Mincer 1978, Cooke and Bailey 1999, Boyle et al. 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006, Cooke 2001, Clark and Davies Withers 2002). If women's economic well-being suffers from family migration, one would expect that family migration also exerts a negative influence on the quality of the relationship between the partners, and hence raises the propensity of union disruption. In their recent study, Boyle et al. (2006) show that family migration indeed raises union instability: Couples who move frequently have a significantly higher risk of union dissolution compared to non-moving ones or couples who move only once. The present study follows this research direction and examines the effect of migration on union dissolution among married and cohabiting couples in Russia.

Russia is an interesting case for two reasons. The level of divorce in Russia is among the highest in Europe (Council of Europe 2004), but it has been rarely examined and poorly understood. Most previous studies have been based on aggregated data (e.g., Andreev and Scherbov 1996, Avdeev and Monnier 2000, Becker and Hemley 1998, Mazur 1969); research based on individual level data has been conducted only recently (Scherbov and van Vianen 2001, 2004). Another reason is that Russia's recent history allows us to distinguish between two periods of different socio-economic contexts: of the planned economy and of transition to the market economy. While most research focuses on the consequences of family migration in the context of the Western market economy, we study whether or not patterns similar to the ones found in these studies also exist in Russia, i.e., a former socialist country that has experienced significant socio-economic and institutional changes in the past two decades.

2. Migration and union dissolution - theoretical considerations

Family migration is expected to increase the propensity of union dissolution due to the following reasons (Boyle et al. 2006). First, previous studies show that women's economic well-being and employment suffer from family migration, which is usually stimulated by the man's professional career (Boyle et al. 2003). Women's employment careers are frequently disrupted after the move, they occupy lower positions or they are paid less than in the jobs they had prior to the move (Mincer 1978, Shihadeh 1991, Cooke and Bailey 1999, Boyle et al. 2001, Cooke 2001, 2003, Clark and Davies Withers 2002). This non-symmetrical gain and loss from family migration possibly exerts a negative influence on the quality of the relationship between the partners. …

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