Life events and migration

Jose Luis Molina, Miranda J Lubbers


Researchers in the area of social networks and migration often study the composition of personal networks as an indicator of migrants’ “integration” or “assimilation” in a particular country. However, as we observed in a recent paper, network composition often fluctuates in response to chance factors that make us question these concepts. This paper explores quantitatively what impact life events have on the network dynamics of immigrants. In particular, we aim to explore whether and to what extent migrants’ changes in marital status, childbirth, and other life events are coupled with changes in the size of their close personal network, density and betweenness. Moreover, we analyze whether life events are associated with greater instability in some types of relationships (e.g., non-kin) than in others. We use longitudinal data of 99 international migrants in Catalonia, Spain, from varying countries of origin. We examine these relations at the aggregate, network level, as well as at the relationship level (for 4,455 ties). Indeed, we find that some life events are associated with considerable instability in networks. We will discuss the implications of our findings.

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