Reunifying or leaving one’s child behind: how do official and unofficial State selection shape family immigration in France?

Julia Descamps, Université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis
Cris Beauchemin, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

This paper aims to analyse how state policies shape family reunification. Using a quantitative approach with a nationally representative French survey, we analyse to what extent and in what circumstances migrants take one or the other of three paths: bringing their children to France through the administrative channel of family reunification (de jure reunification), turning to an alternative channel of child migration (de facto reunification), or leaving their children behind in their birth country. Studying the trajectories of 988 children who were left behind by at least one of their parents during the period 1973-2009, we show that de jure reunification is not the predominant option. Regarding de jure reunification, in addition to an official state selection based on socioeconomic criteria enshrined in law, we find evidence of an unofficial state selection in policy implementation (discriminatory treatments and regional inequalities). We show that, in response to these restrictions, families adapt either by changing their migration schedule (inter- temporal deflection effect) or by somehow turning to de facto reunification (categorical deflection effect). Non-reunification is also a significant option for migrants. It results from both policy constraints and personal choices based on sociocultural preferences.

Keywords: Migrant populations, Policy, Family demography, Longitudinal studies

See paper.

  Presented in Session 75. Social Ties, Family Reunification, and Housing Conditions among International Migrants