Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 961–997 | Cite as

The impact of changes in the marital status on return migration of family migrants

  • Govert E. BijwaardEmail author
  • Stijn van Doeselaar
Original Paper


Many migrants have non-labour motives to migrate, and they differ substantially from labour migrants in their migration behaviour. For family migrants, the decision to return is highly influenced by changes in their marital status. Using administrative panel data on the entire population of recent family immigrants to the Netherlands, we estimate the effect of a divorce and remarriage on the hazard of leaving the Netherlands using a ‘timing of events’ model. The model allows for correlated unobserved heterogeneity across the migration, the divorce and remarriage processes. The family migrants are divided into five groups based on the Human Development Index (HDI) of their country of birth. We find that both divorce and remarriage increase return of family migrants from less-developed countries. Remarriage of family migrants from developed countries makes them more prone to stay. Young migrants are influenced most by a divorce. The impact of the timing of a divorce and remarriage on return is quantified graphically.


Temporary migration Timing-of-events method Marital status dynamics 

JEL Classification

J12 F22 C41 



This research is based on van Doeselaar’s Master thesis in Econometrics at Tilburg University. Financial support from the NORFACE research programme on Migration in Europe—Social, Economic, Cultural and Policy Dynamics is gratefully acknowledged. We thank Statistics Netherlands, Ruben van Gaalen in particular, for the data support. We thank Arthur van Soest and Jaap Abbring for the helpful comments. We would also thank the two anonymous referees and the editor-in-chief, Klaus Zimmermann, who provided very valuable inputs for a substantial revision of an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) and IZA BonnThe HagueThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Hay GroupAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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