Transnational mobility and family planning decisions. A case study of skilled Polish migrant women

by Anna Cieslik

Working Papers WP 12-14
July 2012
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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The aim of this paper is to explore the tension between the transnational mobility of skilled women migrants and their rootedness in place when it comes to childrearing. On the basis of my research on skilled Polish migrants in the United Kingdom, I investigate if and how family planning decisions influence their international migration trajectories. The paper suggests ways in which to improve existing migration and labor market policies in order to encourage migrant women’s labor market participation. It also fills in the gap in migration literature concerning the interaction between the productive and reproductive spheres.

My findings suggest that the comparative advantages and disadvantages of having children in Poland versus in the UK are important factors influencing the mobility of skilled migrant women.. A primary consideration pulling these women back to Poland is the availability of childcare help from the family. The UK, on the other hand, is an attractive location because of the child-friendly provisions offered by most employers. Emotional attachment to home and family tends to tip the scales towards returning to Poland. The reproductive choices made by skilled migrant women, frequently on the basis of emotional and not ‘rational’ calculations, are directly linked to the free movement of people in the European Union Market to.

Anna Cieslik is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Goettingen, Germany. She received her PhD in urban geography from Clark University and is interested in the linkages between the built environment and social interactions. Her current work is based in Astoria, New York, as part of the Global Divercities project.