This project was funded by the ESRC. Dr Katharine Charsley was the Principal Investigator for this project leading a team of researchers. The co-investigators were Dr Sarah Spencer and Dr Hiranthi Jayaweera (COMPAS, Oxford). Dr Marta Bolognani was the qualitative researcher on the project. Evelyn Ersanilli, University of Oxford conducted analysis of the Labour Force Survey. The project lasted for 26 months.
Spouses constitute the largest category of migrant settlement in the UK. In Britain, as elsewhere in Europe, concern is increasingly expressed over the implications of marriage-related migration for integration. In some ethnic minority groups, significant numbers of children and grandchildren of former immigrants continue to marry partners from their ancestral homelands. Such marriages are presented as particularly problematic: a 'first generation' of spouses in every generation may inhibit processes of individual and group integration, impeding socio-economic participation and cultural change. New immigration restrictions likely to impact particularly on such groups have thus been justified on the grounds of promoting integration. The evidence base to underpin this concern is, however, surprisingly limited, and characterised by differing and often partial understandings of the contested and politicised concept of integration. This project combined analysis of relevant quantitative data sets, with qualitative research with the two largest ethnic groups involved (Indian Sikhs and Pakistani Muslims), to compare transnational ‘homeland’ marriages with intra-ethnic marriages within the UK.
The findings suggest that relationships between marriage migration and processes of integration are more complex than previously recognised. The findings from the project - set out in the report and briefing papers below - enhance understanding of the relationships between marriage-related migration and the complex processes glossed as integration, providing new opportunities for both policy and academic debates.
The MMI report was cited in the Casey Review into Integration and Opportunity, and the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper. One area of interest arising from the project is the neglected experiences of migrant husbands. Working with QED-uk.org, a follow-on project (funded by the ESRC's Impact Acceleration Award scheme) has piloted pre-migration language and integration courses for men in Pakistan.