Academic journal article Demographic Research

Ethnic Differences in Family Trajectories of Young Adult Women in the Netherlands: Timing and Sequencing of Events

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Ethnic Differences in Family Trajectories of Young Adult Women in the Netherlands: Timing and Sequencing of Events

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Although extensively studied, research on the demographic family behavior of young adults in Europe has been largely confined to native populations. Therefore, relatively little is known about the family behavior of immigrants and in particular, that of their descendants (see for exceptions, de Valk 2006; Huschek, Liefbroer, and de Valk 2010; Zorlu and Mulder 2011; Zorlu and van Gaalen 2016). This is unfortunate as children of migrants constitute a large and growing share of the contemporary young adult population in Europe (Eurostat 2011). It is well established that family transitions in young adulthood are closely interlinked with transitions in other life domains, such as education, employment, and housing (Blossfeld and Huinink 1991; Bratti and Cavalli 2014; Mulder and Hooimeijer 2002). For instance, choices regarding leaving the parental home may hinder participation in higher education (Windzio 2011). Similarly, an early transition to parenthood may, particularly among women, lead to a higher risk of school dropout and postponement of entering the workforce in order to care for children (Hobcraft and Kiernan 2001). Decisions in the family domain can thus have a profound impact on future life chances of young people. Hence, getting more insight into family dynamics among children of immigrants is crucial for the development of policies aimed at tackling inequalities in ethnically diverse societies.

This study examines ethnic differences in family behavior among young adults in the Netherlands, focusing on the second generation of the four largest nonWestern origin groups (Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese, and Antilleans) and a native Dutch comparison group (see next section for a detailed description). We contribute to previous studies on migrant children's family dynamics in two important ways. First, whereas previous work has mainly focused on single markers in the transition to adulthood (e.g., Garssen and Nicolaas 2008; Huschek, Liefbroer, and de Valk 2010; Zorlu and van Gaalen 2016), we cover several life-course events simultaneously and acknowledge the cumulative nature of the life course (Giele and Elder 1998). We do so by applying sequence analysis, a technique in which the whole trajectory serves as the dependent variable, rather than a specific event in the life course. Second, we add to the literature by assessing the importance of mixed parentage for family behavior. More specifically, we distinguish between children from two foreign-born parents ('2.0 generation') and children of couples consisting of an immigrant and a non-immigrant parent ('2.5 generation'). Despite empirical evidence showing significant differences between the 2.5 generation and the 2.0 generation (Ramakrishnan 2004), the two groups have often been lumped together in previous research, mostly due to data limitations (e.g., Huschek, Liefbroer, and de Valk 2010). In sum, this study seeks to answer the following two research questions: (1) To what extent are there ethnic differences in family trajectories between the second generation of Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, and Antillean origin and native Dutch young adults? (2) How and to what extent do young adults with two foreign-born parents differ from young adults of mixed parentage in terms of family behavior?

Our study focuses on women for both practical and theoretical reasons. On the practical side, studying both men and women would be too broad for the scope of this paper. On the theoretical side, contemporary Dutch society is often depicted in the literature as being in favor of autonomy, emancipation, and gender equality (Oppenheimer 2004). In contrast, in more patriarchal societies such as Turkey and Morocco, cultural norms regarding the timing and sequencing of important family transitions are found to be stricter for women than for men (Bowen and Early 1993; Koc 2007). In the Caribbean region, mothers appear stricter and more demanding with daughters than sons, while the involvement of fathers is childrearing practices is rather marginal (Sharpe 1997). …

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