Role Mobility and Transnational Marriage: Immigrant Women in Taiwan

  • Shu-Man Pan
  • Jung-Tsung Yang


Drawing interviews with 42 immigrants from Southeast Asia, this study explores gendered family care and housework within immigrant households in Taiwan. Research findings of this study demonstrate that family support can transform gender roles within immigrant households. Immigrants in extended families gain support from family relatives, but lose opportunities to change the traditional husband and wife roles associated with childcare and housework. Different from the predominant stereotype, most immigrants are full-time employees or have multiple part-time jobs to support their family. Transnational marriage gives third-world women opportunities to move away from disadvantaged living conditions and gives their husbands an opportunity to change their gender roles in everyday life.


Gender Role Labour Force Participation Immigrant Woman Family Care Immigrant Family 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The writing of the manuscript was financed by the National Science Council of the Republic of China, Taiwan, under Contract Nos. NSC97-2621-M-003-005, NSC98-2621-M-003-002, and NSC99-2621—003-002, under the programmes Making paid employment and care responsibilities compatible among family caregivers: Sustainable development under an ageing population and a declining birth rate and Immigrant caregivers: How to make employment and care responsibilities.


  1. Bittman, M., England, P., Folbre, N., Sayer, L., & Matheson, G. (2003). When does gender trump money? Bargaining and time in household work. American Journal of Sociology, 109(1), 186–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Coltrane, S. (2000). Research on household labor: Modeling and measuring the social embeddedness of routine family work. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1208–1233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Constable, N. (Ed.). (2005). Cross-border marriage: Gender and mobility in transnational Asia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  4. Crompton, R. (2006). Employment and the family: The reconfiguration of work and family life in contemporary societies. London: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Crompton, L., Lewis, S., & Lyonette, C. (2007). Women, men. Palgrave Macmillan: Work and Family in Europe.Google Scholar
  6. Datta, K., Mcllwaine, C., Evans, Y., Herbert, J., May, J., & Wills, J. (2007). Work, care and life among low-paid migrant workers in London: Toward a migrant ethic of care. London: University of London.Google Scholar
  7. Eschle, C. (2004). Feminist studies of globalisation: Beyond gender, beyond economism? Global Society, 18(2), 97–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gangl, M., & Ziefle, A. (2009). Motherhood, labor force behavior, and women’s careers: An empirical assessment of the wage penalty for motherhood in Britain, Germany, and the United States’. Demography, 46(2), 341–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gelfand, D. E., & McCallum, J. (1994). Immigration, the family, and female caregivers in Australia. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 22(3/4), 41–59.Google Scholar
  10. Hakim, C. (2000). Work-lifestyle choices in the 21th century: Preference theory. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Heckert, A., Nowak, T. C., & Snyder, K. A. (1998). The impact of husbands and wives relative earnings on marital dissolution. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60(3), 690–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Inglehart, R., & Baker, W. E. (2000). Modernization, cultural change, and the persistence of traditional values. American Sociological Review, 65, 19–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jones, G. W. (2007). Delayed marriage and very low fertility in Pacific Asia. Population and Development Review, 33(3), 453–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kulik, L. (2005). The impact of family status on gender identity and on sex-typing of household tasks in Israel. The Journal of Social Psychology, 145(3), 299–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kung, I. C. (2004). The sexual politics of foreign capital: Exchange relation between Taiwanese capital and local women in Vietnam. Taiwan: A radical Quarterly in Social Studies, 55, 101–140.Google Scholar
  16. Le Feuvre, N., & Lemarchant, C. (2007). Employment, the family and ‘work-life balance’ in France. In R. Crompton, S. Lewis, & C. Lyonette (Eds.), Women, men, work and family in Europe. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  17. Lewis, J. (2006). Work/family reconciliation, equal opportunities and social policies: 28 the interpretation of policy trajectories at the EU level and the meaning of gender equality. Journal of European Public Policy, 13(3), 420–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liamputtong, P. (2001). Motherhood and the challenge of immigrant mothers: A personal reflection. Families in Society, 82(2), 195–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Marks, J. L., Chun Bun Lam, & MeHale, S. M. (2009). Family patterns of gender role attitudes. Sex Roles, 61, 221–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Meisenbach, R. J. (2010). The female breadwinner: Phenomenological experience and gendered identity in work/family spaces. Sex Roles, 62, 2–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Miller, J., & Garrison, H. H. (1982). Sex roles: The division of labor and home and in the workplace. Ann Rev Socio, 8, 237–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mo, Li-Li, & Pei-Lin Lai. (2004). The issue of birth rate decline and the problems of children of foreign bride in Taiwan. Community Development Journal, 105, 55–65.Google Scholar
  23. Moon, S. (2003). Immigration and mothering: Case studies from two generations of Korean immigrant women. Gender & Society, 17(6), 840–860.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Morgan, S. P., & Hiroshima, K. (1983). The persistence of extended family residence in Japan: Anachronism or alternative strategy? American Sociological Review, 48, 269–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. National Immigration Agency. (2009). 2008 foreign and Chinese spouse’s living requirement investigation report. Taipei City: National Immigration Agency.Google Scholar
  26. National Immigration Agency. (2012). Statistic:
  27. Pan, Shu-Man. (2004). Analyzing the practice and limit of citizenship in light of the phenomenon of immigrant brides. Community Development Journal, 105, 30–44.Google Scholar
  28. Pan, Shu-Man. (2005). Images to Taiwanese mothering. Journal of Women’s and Gender Studies, 20, 41–91.Google Scholar
  29. Pan, Shu-Man. (2007). A study of service planning for Veterans’ foreign and Chinese spouses in needs of employment, education and welfare. Taiwan: Veterans Affairs Commission, Executive Yuan, R.O.C.Google Scholar
  30. Pan, Shu-Man, Chin-Ju Lin, & Jung-Tsung Yang. (2010). The answer of Taiwan dream is blowing in the wind: The transforming gender role of immigrant families. Paper presented at the 2010 International Symposium on Reconciliation of Paid Work and Family Care.Google Scholar
  31. Parrado, E. A., & Flippen, C. A. (2005). Migration and gender among Mexican women. American Sociological Review, 70(4), 606–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pham, V. B. (1999). The Vietnamese family in Change: The case of the Red River Delta. Richmond: Curzon.Google Scholar
  33. Remennick, L. I. (2001). All my life is one big nursing home: Russian immigrant women in Israel speak about double caregiver stress. Women’s Studies International Forum, 24(6), 685–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sainsbury, D. (1996). Gender, equality, and welfare states. London: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. South, S. J. (2001). Time-dependent effects of wives’ employment on marital dissolution. American Sociological Review, 66, 226–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Spitzer, D., Neufeld, A., Harrison, M., Hughes, K., & Stewart, M. (2003). ‘Caregiving in transnational context: My wings have been cut; where can i fly? Gender Society, 17, 267–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Suzuki, N. (2005). Tripartite desires: Filipina-Japanese marriages and fantasies of transnational transversal. In N. Constable (Ed.), Cross-border marriages (pp. 124–144). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  38. Teerawichitchainan, Bussarawan, John Knodel, Vu Manh Loi, & Vu Tuan Huy. (2008). The gender division of household labor in Vietnam: Cohort trends and regional variations (Population Studies Center Research Report). Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  39. Tichenor, V. (2005). Maintaining men’s dominance: Negotiating identity and power when she earns more. Sex Roles, 53(3/4), 131–205.Google Scholar
  40. Tsai, Ming-Chang. (2004). The effects of intimate relationships on housework time among husbands and among wives in Taiwan. Taiwan Sociology, 8, 99–131.Google Scholar
  41. Tsay, Chung-lung. (2004). Marriage migration of women from China and Southeast Asia to Taiwan. In G. W. Jones & K. Ramdas (Eds.), (Un)tying the knot: Ideal and reality in Asian marriage. Singapore: National University of Singapore.Google Scholar
  42. Wall, K., & José, J. S. (2004). Managing work and care: A difficult challenge for immigrant families. Social Policy and Administration, 38(6), 491–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wang, Chang-Hwai, & Ai-Jung Lin. (2009). The comparison of labor force utilization of the female spouses from Southeast Asia, Mainland China and Taiwan. Taiwan Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 6(2), 97–134.Google Scholar
  44. Wang, Hong-zen. (2001). Social stratification, vietnamese partners migration and Taiwan labour market. Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies, 41, 99–127.Google Scholar
  45. Wang, F. T. Y., Bih, H.-D., & Brennan, D. J. (2009). Have they really come out: Gay men and their parents in Taiwan. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 11(3), 285–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wierda-Boer, H. H., Gerris, J. R. M., & Vermulst, A. A. (2008). Adaptive strategies, gender ideology, and work-family balance among Dutch dual earners. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70(4), 1004–1014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Institute of Social WorkNational Taiwan Normal UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of SociologyNational Taipei UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

Personalised recommendations