Marriage Migration and Integration

Published 13 April 2016 / By Katharine Charsley, Sarah Spencer, Hiranthi Jayaweera, Marta Bolognani & Evelyn Ersanilli

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Spouses constitute the largest category of migrant settlement in the UK. 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. The evidence base to underpin this concern is, however, surprisingly limited, and characterised by differing and often partial understandings of the contested and politicised concept of integration. This project combined 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.

This is the final report for the project Marriage Migration and Integration.

A policy briefing on facilitating the integration of migrant spouses can be found here


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