Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Migrants, Partner Selection and Integration: Crossing Borders?

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Migrants, Partner Selection and Integration: Crossing Borders?

Article excerpt


Every year thousands of newly wed Turks and Moroccans migrate to the Netherlands to live with their partner. It is rather unexpected that marriage migration takes place at such a rate. Migration was thought to finish off slowly after the phase of family reunification. Instead, many descendants of the first generation decided to marry a partner still living in the country of origin, resulting in a new migration.

The first Turkish and Moroccan migrant workers moved to the Netherlands in the late 1950s and early sixties. Until the early eighties they were followed by many others from their country. The majority of the migrants were men. Initially their goal was to stay temporarily and return to their family as soon as they could afford it. Today, forty years later, many of the first immigrants are still in the Netherlands, and most have also brought their spouses and children over. The Netherlands count 299.000 thousand Turkish and 252.000 thousand Moroccan citizens (CBS, 2000), which comprises a little less than 4% of the total Dutch population. About 60% of the Turkish and Moroccan group is born in the Netherlands.

The Turkish and Moroccan children who were born in the Netherlands and those who came to the Netherlands whilst still young are now reaching marrying age. Recent figures show that more than half of the second and intermediate generation have found a marital partner in their country of origin. A smaller amount has married a spouse from the own migrant group in the Netherlands (Hooghiemstra and Manting, 1997). The rate of marriages with indigenous is from the other hand almost neglectable (less than 6% of all Turkish and Moroccan married couples in 1996, Hooghiemstra, 1997).

The present article analysis why so many Dutch Turks and Moroccans are choosing to marry a partner who still lives in the country of origin. The objective is to explore the extend to which the partnerselection can be explained by integration on the one hand or by factors that are usually put forward as influencing partnerselection from the other hand. The selection process will be studied at the macro-level, as well as the level of social networks and the individual decision-making level.

The article will start with a summary of various views on partnerselection of migrants which are derived from integration perspectives (2. 1) and from general approaches to processes of partnerselection (2.2). From both angles assumptions will be put forward, as to what differences are to be expected between the Turks and Moroccans in die Nedierlands who did marry a partner from abroad and the ones who didn't (3). The analysis of a survey on Turks and Moroccan will give insight into the actual differences between the two types of marriages (4). Finally the results will be confronted witii the integration perspective on partnerselection on one side and other perspectives from the other (5). It will lead to more understanding of the reasons behind migrant marriages.


Integration and partner selection of migrants

Most of the literature on partnerselection of migrants is focused on mixed marriages. There is httle specific attention for the incidence of marriages between migrants and partners living in the country of origin. A major part of the literature on mixed marriages refers to integration as an important factor in processes of partner choice of migrants. When a migrant group shows a high rate of intermarriage with the indigenous, the group is considered as highly integrated in die country of migration (Gordon, 1964). Furthermore mixed marriages are interpreted as important means to accommodate integration for future generations (Pagnini and Morgan, 1 990). According to these approaches migrant groups who show a continuing high intra-marriage rate are clearly not in a process of integrating in the country of settlement. Groups of migrants that not only tend to choose partners of shared origin but are also highly orientated on partners still living in the country of origin, seem the least bound to the country of settlement of all. …

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