The Role of Spouses and Children in Settlement Decision-making Madine VanderPlaat, PhD Saint Mary’s University Halifax, Canada
Background • Provide an inventory of available and relevant research on the role of spouses and children in the settlement decisions of immigrants, focusing on Atlantic Canada where possible; and identify research gaps in the existing literature on the topic. • Propose a methodological framework to undertake qualitative analysis that will address the information gaps regarding the extent to which spouses and children factor into the decision to settle or not to settle into a certain community.
… more emphasis is needed on the family/household context within which migrants settle…. Just as many migrants decisions are motivated by weighing up the expected advantages and disadvantages for all members of the family, so too must settlement be assessed in terms of the integration of all family members (New Zealand Immigration Services, 1999: 46) .
“the lack of attention to the immigrant family is the core problem affecting even the services specifically addressed to immigrants… the ‘structural’ lack of attention to the migrant family as such” (CJD Eutin, 2008:168).
Research Questions • How do the needs, expectations and experiences of spouses and children affect settlement decision-making? • Is a recognition of spouses and children in settlement decision making policy relevant? • How would existing policies be affected if viewed through a family lens? • How can migration and settlement as a family project be better reflected in policy development?
Considerations in Constructing the Framework • Need to understand individual experience within the context of the family. • Need for flexibility in terms of how “the family” is defined. • Recognition of the gendered nature of immigration and settlement and the need for measurements that reflect these differences.
Research Design • Population Profile • Community Profile • Sample Frame
Research Design (cont’d) • Sample selection • Respondent selection • Research Ethics
Data Collection • Questions which address background information including country of origin (arrival), immigration status, year of immigration, year of settlement in [community] and immigration/settlement history . • Questions which describe the family members in terms of gender, age, education, pre-post migration occupation, employment status. Respondent’s should be free to include family members other than spouses and children if they so desire. • Questions which address the reasons for immigration to Canada and the importance of these for each family member. • Questions which address the reasons for selecting [community] and the importance of these for each family member. • Questions which address the reasons for staying in [community] and the importance of these for each family member. • Questions which address the extent to which the decision to settle in [community] has been a positive or negative experience for each family member. • Questions which elicit perceptions on leaving versus staying.