Moving on and moving out: The implications of socio-spatial mobility for union stability.

Marina Shapira, Vernon Gayle, Elspeth Graham

Research output: Working paper

Abstract / Description of output

The term ‘leading migrant’ was traditionally used to describe a male migrant within a couple, and terms such as ‘trailing spouse’ or ‘tied migrant’ were often used to describe their female partners. With the dramatic restructuring of the economy, increased female participation in the labour market and the rise of dual-earner couples, either partner may now be the ‘leading migrant’. It is therefore plausible that the effects of family migration may also have altered. In this paper, we ask whether family migration for contemporary dual-earner couples has negative consequences for the stability of their partnership. In particular, we investigate whether any negative changes in partners’ employment characteristics following family migration are associated with higher risks of union dissolution. We construct a specialized dataset from the British Household Panel Survey(BHPS) to examine migration, employment and union dissolution in Britain. The BHPS is especially well suited to our study because it provides recent, nationally representative data and a wide range of potentially important prospective and retrospective information on households and individuals. We undertake a duration analysis of union dissolution.Union dissolution is largely explained by partners’ socio-demographic characteristics, the characteristics of the union, the presence and age of children, and the labour force characteristics of both partners. However, spatial mobility, and especially frequent migration, is associated with an increase in the risk of union dissolution, especially within five years of a migration event. Short-distance migration is associated with greater union stability while long distance migration increases the risk of union dissolution. Adverse changes in employment for both partners, but especially the male partner, are negatively related to union stability. We did not find any convincing evidence that migration exacerbates the negative effect that changes in employment characteristics have on union stability.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUniversity of Southampton
PublisherESRC Centre for Population Change
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2017

Publication series

NameCentre for Population Change
PublisherESRC Centre for Population Change
ISSN (Print)2042-4116

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Spatial mobility
  • union stability
  • socio-economic mobility
  • family life
  • longitudinal analyses
  • BHPS


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