Marriage Migration and Integration 2013 – 2015


This research project, conducted in collaboration with the University of Bristol, aims to study interethnic marriage migration and integration in the UK. Spouses constitute the largest category of migrant settlement in Britain. As elsewhere in Europe, concern is increasingly expressed over the implications of marriage-related migration for integration. In some ethnic minority groups, significant numbers of children and grandchildren of former immigrants continue to marry partners from their ancestral homelands. Such marriages are presented as particularly problematic: a ‘first generation’ of spouses in every generation may inhibit processes of individual and group integration, impeding socio-economic participation and cultural change. New immigration restrictions likely to impact particularly on such groups have thus been justified on the grounds of promoting integration.

This research will combine analysis of relevant quantitative data sets, with qualitative research with the two largest ethnic groups involved (Indian Sikhs and Pakistani Muslims), to compare transnational ‘homeland’ marriages with intra-ethnic marriages within the UK. These findings will enhance understanding of the relationships between marriage-related migration and the complex processes glossed as integration, providing much needed new grounding for both policy and academic debates.

Principal Investigator

Katharine Charsley, University of Bristol


Sarah Spencer
Hiranthi Jayaweera
Marta Bolognani, University of Bristol
Evelyn Ersanilli, University of Amsterdam


The Economic and Social Research Council

Professionals' Advisory Group

University of Bristol

News & Media

Are transnational marriages bad for integration?
Blog | Sarah Spencer

The course of true love never did run smooth
Blog | Melanie Griffiths








The project is using mixed methods. These include quantitative analysis of existing local and national datasets to build a background quantitative picture of the socio-economic correlates of transnational marriage, as well as qualitative semi-structured interviews with sibling pairs of British Pakistani Muslims and Indian Sikhs and their spouses, in which one of the couples married transnationally, whilst the other married within the ethnic group in the UK. To reflect the varying characteristics of British Pakistani Muslim and Indian Sikh populations, the qualitative research is taking place in selected geographic locations.