Separation and Return Migration: The case of Families from Post-Communist Central European countries in Switzerland
Migrating into a new social, political and cultural context can be a stressful and disruptive event in the life of a couple or a family. While divorce rates increased prominently in the last decades in Europe, educational level and working participation of women raised. These structural changes are linked to the literature on union dissolution that points out that women’s empowerment is an important factor in family life, and might be also in the likelihood of family separation decision. In this paper, we choose to focus on migrant population from Post-Communist Central European countries of origin (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Czech Republic) living in Switzerland. These countries of origin are characterized by high women labour activity due to its communist history related to forced labour that still influences today’s work dynamics. The purpose of our paper is to assess the probability of union dissolution among heterosexual migrant couples from these specific countries in Switzerland, and to look at the mobility behaviors after separation (i.e., if separated individuals decide to stay or to leave the country). We use longitudinal data from the Swiss population registers between 2010 and 2020. Data on household composition, basic sociodemographic information (age, sex, marital status, nationality, residence permit, length of residency in Switzerland), household income and individual income are available and can be used as controls. Moreover, events such as marriage, divorce/separation, or childbirth can be identified. Using event history analyses, our sample is composed of 2,485 individuals who started cohabiting in 2010 or later (married and non-married couples), of which 734 are separated (~30%) before the end of 2020. Further analyses will compare separation behaviors of this group of migrants with Swiss couples and between homogamous and exogamous couples.