Immigration policy and economic cycle effects on spousal reunification in Spain

 

ARTÍCULO / ARTICLE

IMMIGRATION POLICY AND ECONOMIC CYCLE EFFECTS ON SPOUSAL REUNIFICATION IN SPAIN

POLÍTICA DE INMIGRACIÓN Y LOS EFECTOS DE LOS CICLOS ECONÓMICOS EN LA REUNIFICACIÓN FAMILIAR EN ESPAÑA

Francisco Javier Mato Díaz

Universidad de Oviedo

jmato@uniovi.es

ORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4356-6296

María Miyar Busto

Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia

mmiyar@poli.uned.es

ORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3812-4714

 

ABSTRACT

This paper analyzes the influence of immigration policy and the Great Recession on spousal reunification in Spain. After a significant immigration boom (2000-2008), family-related migration has contributed to the significant flows that continued to arrive in Spain during the economic crisis. But this type of migration was subject to both the crisis and immigration policy changes, such as visa conditions, which may not have been specifically addressed to influence these flows. Using data from the Spanish Labor Force Survey (LFS), the research considers married primary immigrants who came to Spain from the four main countries of origin (Ecuador, Colombia, Romania and Morocco) and concludes, first, that tighter conditions to visit the country—particularly tourist border controls—discourage spousal reunification. The reason could be that during the immigration boom, illicit immigration abounded and secondary immigrants were arriving as tourists. Secondly, reunification was slowed down by the Great Recession for the majority of the countries considered, except Ecuador. Unsurprisingly, given the job losses in typical male jobs, the negative influence of the crisis is greater for female primary immigrants. Third, contrary to the expectations that placed secondary immigrants as people with relatively low ties to the labor market, the research shows that because spousal reunification coincided with a deep economic and job crisis, female secondary immigrants increased the family labor supply in order to maintain consumption and/or remittance in what looks like an added-worker effect.

RESUMEN

En este trabajo se analiza la influencia de las políticas de inmigración y de la Gran Recesión en la reunificación familiar en España. Tras el boom inmigratorio (2000-2008), las migraciones por motivos familiares han contribuido a mantener flujos de entrada significativos a lo largo de la crisis en España. Sin embargo, tanto la propia crisis como las políticas inmigratorias -como la necesidad de visado- afectan a este tipo de inmigración. Con datos de la EPA, esta investigación considera casos de inmigrantes primarios llegados a España de los cuatro principales países de origen (Ecuador, Colombia, Rumanía y Marruecos) y concluye, en primer lugar, que condiciones más estrictas para visitar el país -en particular, la exigencia de visado- frenan la reunificación matrimonial. La razón puede deberse a que durante el auge de la inmigración muchos inmigrantes secundarios llegaban a España como turistas. En segundo lugar, la Gran Recesión frenó la reunificación para todos los países considerados, excepto Ecuador, y su influencia negativa es mayor para las mujeres inmigrantes primarias, algo lógico pues la crisis eliminó empleos típicamente masculinos. En tercer lugar, y contrariamente a las expectativas que asignan al inmigrante secundario unos vínculos con el empleo comparativamente reducidos, la investigación muestra que la coincidencia de la reunificación con una profunda crisis económica y de empleo ha llevado a inmigrantes secundarios femeninos a la actividad laboral, aumentando la oferta de trabajo familiar, con el fin de mantener el consumo y / o las remesas, en lo que parece ser un “efecto trabajador añadido”.

Received: 09-09-2015; Accepted: 23-09-2016.

Cómo citar este artículo/Citation: Mato Díaz, F. J. and M. Miyar Busto. 2017. "Immigration policy and economic cycle effects on spousal reunification in Spain". Revista Internacional de Sociología 75(3):e071. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3989/ris.2017.75.3.15.138

KEYWORDS: Family-related migration; migrant flows; Migrants; migration policy; Spain; spousal reunification; survival analysis.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Análisis de supervivencia; emigración familiar; España; flujos migratorios; inmigrantes; política migratoria; reunificación familiar.

Copyright: © 2017 CSIC. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) Spain 3.0.

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT
RESUMEN
INTRODUCTION
RESEARCH BACKGROUND
DESCRIPTION OF IMMIGRATION TRENDS AND LEGAL CHANGES
RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
1. DATA AND METHODS
2. DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS
3. MULTIVARIATE ANALYSIS
4. CONCLUSIONS
FUNDING
NOTES
REFERENCES
About the authors

 

INTRODUCTION Top

After a decade of striking immigration flows into Spain, the crisis that hit the Spanish economy in 2008 dramatically changed the attractiveness of this destination country, especially because of the sharp falls in employment levels, together with substantial wage moderation, caused by the Great Recession. Despite falling immigrant flows, however, about 400,000 immigrants have continued to arrive in Spain each year since 2009 (Izquierdo et al. 2014Izquierdo, M., J. F. Jimeno and A. Lacuesta. 2014. "Los flujos migratorios en España durante la crisis". Boletín Económico del Banco de España septiembre 2014:53-62.). This paper analyzes a particular aspect of potential flows, specifically spouse reunification, which may be relatively less dependent on economic forces as compared with other types of immigration. Basically, the research looks into the impact of two factors: immigration policy changes and the crisis itself on the likelihood that a primary immigrant made it possible that his or her spouse arrived in Spain as a secondary immigrant.

Looking at migration as a social process, family strategies are key factors that shape migratory processes by interacting with other elements such as community formation, networks, chain migration and state policies (Castles 2004Castles, S. 2004. "The factors that make and unmake migration policies". International Migration Review 38(3):852-884. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-7379.2004.tb00222.x.). Therefore, the consequence of economic factors and state policies on family strategies are significant issues, not just because of their effects on flows, but also because of their interactions with the remaining elements. During the Spanish crisis, some families opted for returning to the origin country, while others remained in Spain, even if unemployment hit them hard. Further, some families who remained decided to reunify, thus contributing to the maintenance of flows. The general objective of this paper is to analyze family-related immigration in Spain, particularly spousal reunification. The specific objectives are to explore the changes in family-related immigration that occurred as a result of the crisis and as a result of visa requirements imposed on some foreign nationals at the border.

Another specific objective of the paper is to explore whether the Great Recession had different effects on reunification depending on gender. Following Kofman (2004Kofman, E. 2004. "Family-Related Migration: A Critical Review of European Studies". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 30(2):243-262. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369183042000200687.), family migration was traditionally seen as a secondary type of migration in policy terms. This migration typically consisted of female dependents who followed the male primary migrants. A consequence of this “gendered view” is that the effects of family migration on the labor market are overlooked (Kofman, 2004Kofman, E. 2004. "Family-Related Migration: A Critical Review of European Studies". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 30(2):243-262. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369183042000200687.). This is relevant for the present paper because the Great Recession in Spain brought about a high rise in male unemployment levels as a result of the severe crisis in the construction sector and other sectors where jobs were typically held by men.[1] In this regard, given that spousal reunification is not necessarily aimed at a job search by the secondary migrant, an interesting analytical concept is that of labor market attachment (the degree of integration into the regular labor market). Thus, the paper devotes some effort to looking at the extent to which reunified spouses are working or searching for a job in order to help understand the rationale behind reunification processes.

The structure of the paper is as follows. Section two presents a background of the literature devoted to study family-related migration, paying special attention to the work on the Spanish case. A description of Spanish immigration trends originating in the four countries that explain the majority of recent incoming flows is then presented in the third section. The policy changes affecting immigration from these countries (Ecuador, Colombia, Romania and Morocco) are also explained. Research hypotheses are introduced in the fourth section, which is followed by the description of data and methods in the fifth section. The results are presented in sections six (descriptive analysis) and seven (multivariate analysis), while the conclusions are presented in the final part of the paper.

 

RESEARCH BACKGROUND Top

From a host country perspective, the study of family-related migration is relevant because of its potential effects on future migration flows. Moreover, the analysis of the determinants of family-related migration can provide information about the effectiveness of measures aimed at influencing the size and characteristics of the immigrant population. An additional interest of analyzing spousal reunification comes from its likely influence on the size of the labor force, since primary migrants’ partners are relatively more prone to be of working age, as compared with their ascendants or children.

The literature on the “new economics of labor migration” has underlined the benefits that the arrival of new migrants confers upon the primary migrants, which stem from the economic role played by “network and kinship capital.” This can be thought of in the framework of collective migration decisions, where risk handling becomes a key factor influencing both the number of migrants from the same group and the timing of each individual migration (Stark and Bloom 1985Stark, O. and D. E. Bloom. 1985. "The New Economics of Labor Migration". American Economic Review 75:173-178.).

Although neglected for a long time in European migration literature, recent studies have focused on family-related migration from a variety of perspectives and with different aims. First, previous migration literature dealt with reunification migration from the viewpoint of the evolution of migration flows, focusing on the multiplying effect of the arrival of primary migrants who, in the future, will grant their families regular access to residence. These studies usually adopt a legal perspective and use administrative records (Jasso and Rosenzweig 1986Jasso, G. and M. R. Rosenzweig. 1986. "Family Reunification and the Immigration Multiplier: U.S. Immigration Law, Origin-Country Conditions, and the Reproduction of Immigrants". Demography 23(3):291-311. https://doi.org/10.2307/2061432.).

Secondly, other articles have emphasized that, contrary to the previous assumption, family-related migrants are not always economically dependent on primary migrants and can participate in the labor market (Kofman 2004Kofman, E. 2004. "Family-Related Migration: A Critical Review of European Studies". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 30(2):243-262. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369183042000200687.). Additionally, family-related migration analyses may, to some extent, disregard the use of admission categories designed by policymakers, looking rather into the family ties of the migrants and their migration strategies, which combine economic and family motivations (Kofman 2004Kofman, E. 2004. "Family-Related Migration: A Critical Review of European Studies". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 30(2):243-262. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1369183042000200687.; González-Ferrer 2011aGonzález-Ferrer, A. 2011a. "Explaining the labour performance of immigrant women in Spain: the interplay between family, migration and legal trajectories". International Journal of Comparative Sociology 52(1-2):63-78. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0020715210377153.).

Third, by focusing on families, both the theoretical and empirical literature has shown the diversity of migratory projects. The new economics of labor migration has focused on family strategies that try to diversify risk by residing in different countries. Additionally, several articles using data from the Migration between Africa and Europe (MAFE) project for Sub-Saharan communities have shown that “living apart together across borders” is a frequent practice for many couples. These analyses have pointed out the relevance of institutional contexts in the countries of origin as a determinant of the spousal migration decision (Beauchemin et al. 2015Beauchemin, C., J. Nappa, B. Schoumaker, P. Baizán, A. González-Ferrer, K. Caarls and V. Mazzucato. 2015. "Reunifying Versus Living Apart Together Across Borders: A Comparative Analysis of sub-Saharan Migration to Europe". International Migration Review 49(1):173-199. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/imre.12155.; Toma and Vause 2013Toma, S. and S. Vause. 2013. "On Their Own? A Study of Independent Versus Partner-Related Migration from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Senegal". Journal of Intercultural Studies 34(5):533-552. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07256868.2013.827832.). Transnational families often lead to reunification processes that take part in the country of origin, which means the return of the primary migrant (Baizán et al. 2014Baizán, P., C. Beauchemin and A. González-Ferrer. 2014. "An Origin and Destination Perspective on Family Reunification: The Case of Senegalese Couples". European Journal of Population 30(1):65-87. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10680-013-9305-6.).

In Spain, worsening labor market conditions during the Great Recession were especially relevant for recent immigrants (Cebolla-Boado, Miyar-Busto and Muñoz-Comet 2015Cebolla-Boado, H., M. Miyar-Busto and J. Muñoz-Comet. 2015. "Is the Spanish recession increasing inequality? Male migrant-native differences in educational returns against unemployment". Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 41(5):710-728. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2014.936837.), and modified the risk structure faced by families. Regarding the potential effects on family reunification, risk pooling could be achieved both through reunifying and by maintaining the separated family depending on the situation. Initially, one could expect that an economic slowdown would hinder immigration given that rising unemployment reduces work opportunities and increases the risk associated with maintaining a reunified family in the destination country. However, reunification may also be driven by the commitment to send remittances or, to put it more plainly, by the need to support the family. Two arguments back this possibility. On the one hand, families may decide that reunification is less costly than the reduction in remittances caused by falling income.[2] This could be especially appealing when partners are completely dependent on the primary migrant or have low labor market attachment (LMA).[3] On the other hand, families with high LMA partners could reunify precisely for income reasons. Here, the idea is that, despite the labor market situation, the secondary migrant may try to find work in order to sustain the previous income level. This possibility means an increase in the family labor supply under the “added worker” rationale (Lundberg 1985Lundberg, S. 1985. "The Added Worker Effect". Journal of Labor Economics 3(1):11-37. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/298069.). According to this rationale, a fall in family income could cause a rise in the number of family members in the labor market so that the loss of income of the breadwinner may be compensated for by the additional wages. Usually, it is the family members with a relatively lower LMA who enter the labor market under this effect.

Notwithstanding the effects of economic crisis, family migration practices have an interest in themselves insofar as they can be considered part of a process of diffusion. In such processes, the primary migrant is an innovator, and the features that accelerate or delay the adoption of the innovation by the rest of the group may be more interesting than whether the innovation has occurred. The reasons lie in the potential demonstration effects of the process and in the societal impact of migration, which can be regarded as stage-specific (Stark and Bloom 1985Stark, O. and D. E. Bloom. 1985. "The New Economics of Labor Migration". American Economic Review 75:173-178.:176).

The literature on migration and reunification in Spain has dealt with some of these issues. Looking at the legal arrangements devised for family reunification before the crisis, González-Ferrer (2011aGonzález-Ferrer, A. 2011a. "Explaining the labour performance of immigrant women in Spain: the interplay between family, migration and legal trajectories". International Journal of Comparative Sociology 52(1-2):63-78. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0020715210377153.) stated that “it is not impossible to think that migrants who decided to utilise the slow and burdensome legal procedure for family reunification to come to Spain not only had a stronger aversion to break the law, but probably also a weaker preference for work.” The same author, knowledgeable of the significant amount of irregular spouses and children who did not use family reunification channels during prosperity, argues that the crisis probably caused family reunification authorizations to become a much closer indicator of actual family-related immigration flows (González-Ferrer 2014González-Ferrer, A. 2014. "La inmigración por motivos familiares durante la crisis". Pp. 109-134 in Anuario de la Inmigración en España 2013.). Thus, a sort of self-selection could have occurred whereby immigrant spouses with relatively high LMA may have arrived in Spain outside the reunification regular channels. Likewise, reunification patterns after the crisis may be marked by the prevalence of spouses with little LMA. This research can contribute to this literature by showing to what extent spousal reunification in Spain has been affected by recent legal and economic developments and, in turn, by analyzing migrants’ LMA.

 

DESCRIPTION OF IMMIGRATION TRENDS AND LEGAL CHANGES Top

In the decade that preceded the current economic crisis, Spain experienced an immigration boom that took the population born abroad from slightly less than a million people (2% of the total population) in 2000 to 5.7 million people (12%) in 2010. This immigration explosion led a nation that had traditionally been the origin of international migrants to become a destination country. Immigration flows coming primarily from Africa and Latin America were formed by a multi-ethnic and heterogeneous population. However, four countries of origin—Ecuador, Colombia, Romania and Morocco—stood out among the main sources of immigration, amounting to about two million people. An explanation of the main legal issues and immigration policy changes that occurred in Spain since 2000 comes next, followed by a brief description of migrant flows from these countries.

An overview of legal changes affecting immigration in Spain

Spanish immigration policy in the past decades has changed along with a variety of political and economic conditions. Particularly striking are the conflicting views on immigration policy held by the two main political parties. However, a policy pattern is the repetitive adoption of special regularization processes addressed to irregular immigrants. The recurring use of this option makes what is an ordinary policy a supposedly extraordinary legal measure (Ballester 2006Ballester Pastor, M. A. 2006. El acceso al empleo de los trabajadores extracomunitarios. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch.).

The narrative of policy developments occurring since 2000 starts with the Organic Law 4/2000 enacted in January of that year without the support of the ruling party, which aimed to improve the rights of foreigners living in Spain.[4] Later that year, after a general election, the new government, which by then ruled under absolute majority, changed the law. A very restrictive act (LO 8/2000) was passed inspired by fears about a potential “pull effect” caused by the previous law. The Supreme Court amended part of this law, and the government decided to propose a new Organic Law 14/2003, which was tougher than the previous one.[5]

In a country that was historically characterized by outgoing migrant flows, the rapid growth of immigration beginning in 2000—much of it irregular—led to policy reactions. First, the so-called “voluntary return” policy was introduced. This policy stated that irregular immigrants who then lived in Spain should travel to their country of origin in order to get a work visa. Spain would pay for the trip in a move that aimed to send a message to future immigrants: they could come to work in Spain provided they obtained a work visa first. The measure failed in a few months’ time as a result of the overwhelming number of applicants and the government withdrew it due to the costs involved.

After the failure of the policy, new visa requirements and bilateral agreements were adopted to curb irregular immigration.[6] However, a political change in the Spanish government brought about one of the most significant legal changes in 2005: a regularization process. The process aimed at regularizing about 800,000 immigrants who were working at the time, but who had no regular authorization. The procedure required employers to regularize immigrant employees who had lived in Spain for over six months. Otherwise, immigrants could opt for the rooting process (a work-related option which required living in Spain for over two years, with more than one year of work experience; a general option required three years residence). Through this process, some 578,375 immigrants were regularized (Finotelli and Arango 2011Finotelli, C. and J. Arango. 2011. "Regularisation of unauthorised immigrants in Italy and Spain: determinants and effects". Documents d’Anàlisi Geogràfica 57(3):495-515. http://dx.doi.org/10.5565/rev/dag.251.).

Extraordinary regularizations have been a recurrent policy development in recent immigration history. Since 1985, six extraordinary regularizations were adopted, each of which was supposed to be of an exceptional nature (Ballester 2006Ballester Pastor, M. A. 2006. El acceso al empleo de los trabajadores extracomunitarios. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch.; Finotelli and Arango 2011Finotelli, C. and J. Arango. 2011. "Regularisation of unauthorised immigrants in Italy and Spain: determinants and effects". Documents d’Anàlisi Geogràfica 57(3):495-515. http://dx.doi.org/10.5565/rev/dag.251.). Therefore, a frequent immigration process in Spain has comprised an irregular entry of the migrant person, followed by a subsequent regularization (González-Enríquez 2009González-Enríquez, C. 2009. Undocumented migration. Counting the uncountable. Data and trends across Europe, Country Report Spain. Research D.G. European Commission.). In this respect, policy changes aimed at influencing temporary entries may have direct effects on long term immigration. Therefore, entry visa requirements may have an effect on all manners of immigration, including family-related ones.

Additionally, the possibility of migrating into Spain through work-related paths, or through irregular processes, may have reduced the use of regular family reunification procedures. It may have been the case that the former ways were easier than the latter ones, as has been reported in Italy (Bonizzoni 2009Bonizzoni, P. 2009. "Living together again. Families surviving Italian immigration policies". International Review of Sociology 19(1):83-101. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03906700802613954.). Moreover, non-written instructions affect the day-to-day procedures pertaining to residence authorizations in such a way that the complexity and duration of the process can be significantly affected. This lengthy procedure may have had at least two consequences: first, most spouses who reunified during the boom years did so outside the regular procedure. Secondly, immigrants would be self-selected in such a way that people with relatively little LMA were more likely to come through family reunification procedures (González-Ferrer 2014González-Ferrer, A. 2014. "La inmigración por motivos familiares durante la crisis". Pp. 109-134 in Anuario de la Inmigración en España 2013.). In fact, according to OECD data from 2011, Spain was the third country with the lowest percentage of family-related immigration, as compared with annual admissions (OECD 2013OECD. 2013. International Migration Outlook 2013. Paris: OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/1999124x.). The opposite trend has been reported elsewhere, such as in the US, when tighter border controls led to the growth of undocumented migration, a greater role of networks in the migratory process and lengthier undocumented stays (Massey et al. 2003Massey, D., J. Duran and N.J. Malone. 2003. Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.).

The administration dealt with applications for family reunification in ways that revealed changes already underway in the year when the economic crisis had just begun. Thus, in the second half of 2008, immigration officers seemed to have adopted a tougher stance when examining applicants: case data show that the number of rejections of candidates of working age doubled (González-Ferrer 2014González-Ferrer, A. 2014. "La inmigración por motivos familiares durante la crisis". Pp. 109-134 in Anuario de la Inmigración en España 2013.). In this regard, if an analysis was made by looking at case data, the potential consequences of the crisis would coincide with those arising from administrative harshness towards family reunification. However, as will be made clear below, the data used in this paper ignore the precise legal paths used for family reunification.

Finally, the most recent legislative change was introduced in 2009 by means of Organic Law 2/2009. This act was required to comply with sentences passed down by the Constitutional Courtand, as well as with several EU directives. It modified some family reunification procedures. such as restricting it to the nuclear family. Thus, while spouse reunification was simplified by upgrading cohabitation to make it equivalent to formal marriage, the reunification of ascendants was, as a general rule, restricted to those over 65 years old.[7] There is no evidence of an increase in family reunification permits during the recession according to official data.[8]

Immigration from Ecuador, Colombia, Romania and Morocco: trends and issues

The analysis focuses on four countries of origin: Ecuador, Colombia, Romania and Morocco. Over 37% of the population who were born outside Spain comes from these four countries. Concentrating the research on these countries is aimed at allowing an in-depth study of flows and their determinants.[9] The four cases share very few features as origin countries, while there are various differences among them. Perhaps the main similarity was that all of them became the sources of important migration flows around the same time, often helped by situations that contributed to push outgoing migration. For example, landmark economic crises were then taking place in Ecuador, where full dollarization was adopted that very year;[10] economic problems were aggravated by remarkable political instability and violence in Colombia;[11] and in Romania the fall of communism was followed by acute economic problems that lasted well into the first decade of this century.[12] Regarding Morocco, it had a long standing tradition as a country of origin of migrants, with being France their main destination, and migration into Spain was a continuation of this tradition.

A second similarity is found in the age composition of migrants from the four countries. On average, the migrants were younger than the Spanish working population, while a third common trait is the occupation of incoming migrants in the lowest levels of the occupational pyramid in Spain upon their arrival.

Regarding the differences among origin countries, the gender composition of immigrant flows stands out. While women accounted for the majority of primary migrants from Ecuador and Colombia—reaching as high as 60% of flows in the early years—the opposite happened among Moroccan migrants, who were predominantly male (around 60% of the population of Moroccan origin in Spain are men). The percentages of Romanian men and women were rather balanced.

A second difference was the composition of the immigrant population as regards marital status. According to data from the National Immigrants Survey (ENI 2007),[13] Romanians presented a similar proportion, very close to 50% of married men and women, of which 28% migrated with their spouses. Among Ecuadorians, many more men than women were married (47% vs. 38%), but a similar proportion (17%) came with their partners. The composition of Moroccan immigrants showed significantly lower figures of married people and, among them, a higher proportion of married women as compared to men (35% vs. 25%) (Esteve and Cortina 2011Esteve, A. and C. Cortina. 2011. "Trayectorias conyugales de los inmigrantes internacionales en España". Documents d’Anàlisi Geogràfica 57(3):469-493. http://dx.doi.org/10.5565/rev/dag.246.).

Third, the prevalence of single immigrant men from Morocco is associated with a large presence of Moroccan immigrants in occupations within the agricultural sector, especially in Andalusia. These activities do not require as much knowledge of Spanish. In this respect, Moroccan immigrants were initially at a disadvantage, since fluency in Spanish plays a significant role in labor market integration and wages (Mato and Gutiérrez 2010Mato, F. J. and R. Gutiérrez. 2010. "Logros laborales de los inmigrantes económicos en España: el papel de la lengua española". Pp. 101-159 in Emigración y lengua: el papel del español en las migraciones internacionales, directed by J. A. Alonso and R. Gutiérrez. Madrid: Ariel.). Immigrants coming from both Ecuador and Colombia had Spanish as their mother tongue, while those coming from Romania were quick learners due to language proximity (Gutiérrez and Miyar 2010Gutiérrez, R. and M. Miyar-Busto. 2010. "Conocimiento del español e integración social de los inmigrantes". Pp. 161-228 in Emigración y lengua: el papel del español en las migraciones internacionales, directed by J. A. Alonso and R. Gutiérrez. Madrid: Ariel.). Thus, the majority of immigrant workers from these three sources found jobs in the services sector.

Fourth, upward mobility, or economic assimilation, is reportedly limited in Spain for the immigrant community. However, Moroccan immigrants, as well as migrants from other African countries, have a relatively lower probability of occupational upgrading than economic immigrants of European or American origin. Even the literature that concludes that some occupational mobility exists among certain groups of immigrants excludes those coming from Africa from the benefits of such assimilation (Rinken et al. 2011Rinken, S., A. Álvarez-Sotomayor, M. P. Cortés Sánchez and A. G. Galera Pozo. 2011. "El (des-)empleo inmigrante en España en tiempos de crisis económica. Un examen empírico de tres factores explicativos". Sociología del Trabajo 72:63-96.).

Finally, the fifth, and perhaps the most important difference as regards this research, has to do with legal issues that may affect immigration from each of the four nations. Changes have affected all the countries except Morocco, for different reasons. On the one hand, immigrants coming from the two non-EU countries (Colombia and Ecuador) have been affected by various legal restrictions in the past. On the other hand, Romanian immigrants have experienced the process that led to full free mobility following the entry of Romania into the European Union. This fifth difference deserves a more detailed explanation, which begins by presenting similar Latin American cases.

Following the fiasco of the “voluntary return” policy, new bilateral agreements were introduced with the objective of curbing irregular immigration from Ecuador and Colombia.[14] Specifically, from January 2002 onwards, tourist visas were required for Colombians coming to Spain. Visas were part of a bilateral agreement signed in 2001 between the Spanish and the Colombian governments, and the following year flows plummeted by more than 50%. In the Ecuadorian case, Spain introduced a visa requirement in the summer of 2003 that aimed to control irregular immigration. This led to a significant fall of about 75% in incoming flows beginning in 2004, as well as a decrease in the rejection of travelers at arrival.

The consequences of bilateral agreements for immigration flows were dubious, as is often the case (Hanson 2009Hanson, G. 2009. "The Governance of Migration Policy". Human Development Research Paper nº 02/09. New York: UNDP.; Boccagni and Lagomarsino 2011Boccagni, P. and F. Lagomarsino. 2011. "Migration and the Global Crisis: New Prospects for Return? The Case of Ecuadorians in Europe". Bulletin of Latin American Research 30(3):282-297. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-9856.2010.00494.x.). However, due to policy changes and improvements in the Ecuadorian and Colombian economies, immigration flows from Ecuador and Colombia stabilized in the mid-2000s with the arrival of less than 40,000 people per year from each of these two countries (Miyar 2011Miyar-Busto, M. 2011. La dinámica de la inmigración en España: una década de llegadas y salidas. PhD Thesis, UNED. http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.33473.35684.; Finotelli and Arango 2011Finotelli, C. and J. Arango. 2011. "Regularisation of unauthorised immigrants in Italy and Spain: determinants and effects". Documents d’Anàlisi Geogràfica 57(3):495-515. http://dx.doi.org/10.5565/rev/dag.251.).

Echeverri (2014Echeverri Buriticá, M. 2014. "A los dos lados del Atlántico. Reconfiguraciones de los proyectos migratorios y la vida familiar transnacional de la población colombiana en España". Papeles del CEIC 2014/2(109). CEIC (Centro de Estudios sobre la Identidad Colectiva), Universidad del País Vasco. http://dx.doi.org/10.1387/pceic.12988.) reported that visa requirements for Colombian families had a significant negative effect on younger immigrants. Longer and spread out reunification processes, together with both formal and less formal bureaucratic barriers, led to difficult and painful experiences. The family reunification process was added to the general integration process, increasing the chances of conflict. Particularly interesting were the effects of visa requirements after 2002, which were announced in 2001 and accelerated the informal reunification of both spouses and children. Thus, in a matter of weeks, family members arrived as tourists despite their irregular situation, short residence period and the precarious economy of the reunifying family member.

In the last few years, starting in 2013, and in the light of the trade agreement between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the end of the visa requirement was negotiated for Colombian immigrants entering Schengen countries. Beginning December 2015, a visa is no longer required. Spain has asked its Schengen partners to extend this exemption to Ecuadorians, but no decision has been taken yet.[15]

Regarding the Romanian case, in the early 2000s, the ongoing process that would lead to Romania’s integration in the European Union meant the end of travel visas for Romanian workers. Thus, Spain eliminated the visa requirement for Romanians beginning January 2002 (Viruela 2008Viruela Martínez, R. 2008. "De Este a Oeste: la inmigración desde los nuevos países comunitarios (Rumanía y Bulgaria)". Cuadernos de geografía 84:127-134.). Romanian immigrant workers and spouses have benefited from freedom of movement in the EU since 2007 and the inflows of migrants born in Romania have increased notably since then (Garrido and Miyar 2010Garrido, L. and M. Miyar-Busto. 2010. "La dinámica de los flujos migratorios de entrada en España". Presupuesto y Gasto Público 61(4):11-23.). However, a moratorium was placed on the free mobility of workers, which restricted mobility for up to seven years in 11 European economies (Marcu 2012Marcu, S. 2012. "Living across the Borders: The Mobility Narratives of Romanian Immigrants in Spain". Romanian Journal of European Affairs 12(3):33-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2142366.). During that period, Romanian workers were required to have a work permit in order to work in a Spanish firm. Two years later, the Spanish government lifted the moratorium, and Romanians could migrate to Spain for purposes of work after January 1st 2009. However, the economic crisis and high unemployment in the country led the Spanish government to reinstate the moratorium in July 2011.[16] The European Commission accepted the proposal, and from August 2011 to December 2013 mobility was again restricted. Since January 2014, once the moratorium had come to an end, Romanians are free to move and work in Spain.

Finally, regarding policy changes in Spain that may have affected incoming migrants from Morocco, no such changes have occurred during the period of study. Tourist visas have traditionally been required to enter Spain and even those people crossing from Morocco to France and other central European countries, insofar as they lack a work permit, are required to have a visa.

Family and spousal reunification: additional considerations

At present, the main characteristics of Spanish legislation regarding family reunification of non-EU nationals are the following: permanent residents can reunify their families after they have renewed their initial residence authorization; the potential beneficiaries of reunification are spouses, children under 18 and disadvantaged children 19 and over; dependent ascendants can be reunified only after the immigrant has resided in the country for a long period of time; spouses keep the residence visa in the event of a divorce, but each immigrant can reunify with a maximum of one spouse; and spouses who have arrived through the reunification process can bring their own family provided they acquired a residence visa and work permit through a process.

This research looks into the reunification of spouses only. There are two reasons for this research decision. Firstly, the database, which is presented below, does not allow a longitudinal measure of family members. Therefore, the situation of children and parents of the initial immigrant cannot be properly taken into account. The second reason arises from the objective of this paper, which is to analyze the labor market situation of immigrants and of their spouses.

The changes introduced by Law 2/2009, whereby cohabitation was to be accepted as a reason for spousal reunification, included a straight path towards labor market integration in Spain: reunified partners could work right away. In this regard, the type of data and the analysis carried out below considers that a couple has reunified with no regard for the specific legal procedure that may have been used. The link with legal and policy changes is an indirect one.[17]

 

RESEARCH HYPOTHESES Top

The paper looks into the observable consequences of two types of changes on spousal reunification immigration flows: policy or legal arrangements and economic changes due to the crisis.[18] Additionally, the degree of integration of reunified spouses into the labor market is analyzed for each type of change. The research hypotheses are described in what follows.

The first type consists of changes in regular arrangements affecting immigrants from the four countries considered. Given the abovementioned considerations on the diversity of paths that spouses use to migrate, the legal changes considered here include general policies such as visa requirements and/or freedom of movement. Tougher legal requirements were already associated with diminishing absolute immigration flows (Finotelli and Arango 2011Finotelli, C. and J. Arango. 2011. "Regularisation of unauthorised immigrants in Italy and Spain: determinants and effects". Documents d’Anàlisi Geogràfica 57(3):495-515. http://dx.doi.org/10.5565/rev/dag.251.).

H1: Restrictive policy changes specifically hinder spousal reunification.

The second type of change is given by the Great Recession. In addition to the logical relationship between the crisis and the slowdown of immigration in general, another motivation is the extent to which spousal reunification has contributed to maintaining the unskilled labor supply in Spain during the Great Recession. Given that immigration flows sustained the low occupational tiers in the Spanish labor market during the decade of highest immigration (Bernardi et al. 2011Bernardi, F., L. Garrido and M. Miyar. 2011. "The Recent Fast Upsurge of Immigrants in Spain and Their Employment Patterns and Occupational Attainment". International Migration 49:148-187. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2435.2010.00610.x.), the maintenance of a low-level labor pool may have been influenced by immigration paths outside the labor market, such as family-related migration.

A specific hypothesis in this respect is the following: since worsening employment perspectives are expected to have similar effects to those arising from tougher legal requirements,

H2(a): the Great Recession slows down spousal reunification.

Moreover, taking into account that employment losses were deeper in sectors that traditionally employ men rather than in female job niches,

H2(b): the Great Recession hindered spousal reunification to a relatively larger extent if the potential secondary migrant is a man rather than a woman.

Accordingly, while spouses who arrive in good times are expected to have an LMA similar to primary migrants, spouses coming in bad times are expected to report less LMA.

H2(c): Observable labor market attachment of incoming spouses has fallen after the Great Recession.

Aside from the above, specific findings regarding differences between Romanian, Ecuadorian, Colombian, and Moroccan immigration are expected. The full freedom of mobility that Romanian citizens currently enjoy would lead to a normalization of their family reunification patterns. This means that reunification would take place after a short period of time since the first family member migrated, and that often both spouses moved together. Furthermore, if Ecuadorian and Colombian spouses were married to a EU citizen, the same would apply.[19] Otherwise, lengthier reunification periods would be expected to occur. Thus,

H3: country-of-origin differences will be observed that are related to specific factors affecting immigration and reunification calendars.

 

1. DATA AND METHODS Top

This section presents the type of data used and the approach that allows analyzing policy effects through survey data.[20] In order to consider the balance between economic and family-related immigration in Spain, this analysis takes into account a long period that covers both pre-crisis and post-crisis years. The family structure analysis has shown that the bulk of family reunification processes occurred before the crisis. Depending on the country of origin and the type of family member, varying rates of potential reunifications reached 70%–80% by 2007 (González-Ferrer 2014González-Ferrer, A. 2014. "La inmigración por motivos familiares durante la crisis". Pp. 109-134 in Anuario de la Inmigración en España 2013.). Moreover, previous research on immigrant women shows that reunification processes appear to be strongly associated with labor market outcomes, that is, immigrant women who arrived to Spain before the crisis were not as economically dependent as some may expect. Rather, reunified women had a relatively high employment probability (González-Ferrer 2011aGonzález-Ferrer, A. 2011a. "Explaining the labour performance of immigrant women in Spain: the interplay between family, migration and legal trajectories". International Journal of Comparative Sociology 52(1-2):63-78. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0020715210377153.). If this were the case after the crisis, family-migrants together with economic migrants would have shrunk and explanatory factors of continuing immigration should be found elsewhere. Whatever the case may be, in order to have a complete picture of family reunification vis-a-vis work-related immigration, the period of analysis considered in this paper begins in the year 2000.

The data used in this work come from micro data files of the Spanish Labor Force Survey (LFS). This survey has been carried out regularly since 1964 and provides information about labor market and sociodemographic characteristics for all members of the household. The sample comprises about 60,000 households, corresponding to approximately 180,000 people. The sample corresponding to the foreign-born population has grown notably since 2000 and in 2014 it comprised over 8,000 people. Since 2007 and for all residents who were born abroad, the LFS provides information on years since migration. Even if the LFS entails some data restriction for analyzing reunification patterns (like the absence of information about date of marriage), it has the advantage of providing information for a long period of time. Thus the LFS, as opposed to the National Immigrant Survey (2007), allows analyzing the Great Recession. In addition, the fact that LFS uses repeated cross-section data implies that it does not take into account the effect of return migration. If return migrants have a different reunification pattern, this could involve a bias. There are reasons to expect a smaller reunification probability among return migrants (Miyar-Busto and Muñoz-Comet 2015Miyar-Busto, M. and J. Muñoz-Comet. 2015. "La salida de inmigrantes en contextos de declive económico ¿Cambia la autoselección durante fases recesivas?". Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas 152:87-104. http://dx.doi.org/10.5477/cis/reis.152.87.). If this were the case, the relationship between time of residence and the probability of reunification may be overestimated, because potential return migrants would be overrepresented among migrants who arrived in the last few years.

For the analysis proposed in this article, LFS surveys corresponding to the period 2007–2014 are used. The work focuses on married people born in Colombia, Ecuador, Rumania, and Morocco. In order to simplify the analysis, migrants who live with a spouse born in Spain or born in a third country are excluded. Only 18.7% of the sample of married migrants is from these countries. Partners who arrived in the host country in the same year are also excluded (they represent 27.5% of the sample). The resulting sample therefore comprises married migrants who do not live with their spouses and married migrants who live with their spouses, but who arrived to Spain before them. This sample setting is adequate for carrying out the analysis of reunification because it contains the total amount of married migrants who can undertake a spousal reunification process.[21] The available sample for this group consisted of 36,629 individuals. For descriptive purposes, cohorts that arrived in 2000 and 2005 will be analyzed. These two cohorts represent the beginning of the migratory cycle (2000) and a year of massive arrival (2005), three years before the Great Recession started. These cohorts allow observing the effects of economic and political changes for established migrants, as well as for those who arrived more recently.

The dependent variable is whether or not both members of the couple live together. Cohabitation is considered an indicator of reunification insofar as both partners were born in the same country but arrived in Spain at different moments. Of course, it could also be the case that some couples met in Spain after their arrival, and this would not be an example of reunification. A tentative test of the representativeness of reunification processes was made by comparing people married in Spain with a partner of the same country of origin (endogamic marriages) to the total endogamic married population residing in Spain, by country of birth.[22] The results show that people of Romanian and Moroccan origin have small rates of 1.4 and 0.6% (i.e., only a minor percentage of non-singles were married in Spain between the 2000 and 2011 census). This means that the vast majority of the married migrants coming from these countries actually got married abroad (very few may have been married in Spain before 2000). As a result, the reunification rates used in this paper can be considered representative of the social issue at hand. The same rates produce slightly higher values for Ecuadorians (6%) and for Colombians (9%). All in all, registered marriage data supports the validity of LFS data for representing reunification patterns.

An additional test was performed in order to check the weight of immigrants who married abroad while they were still living in Spain. This was carried out by following the percentage of married immigrants in each arrival cohort (2000 and 2005) as time of residence increases. No significant increase was found when looking at immigrants’ country of origin and sex, with the exception of Moroccan immigrants from the 2005 cohort, who showed an 18 (10) percentage point increase in the percentage of married men (women) between the sixth and the eighth year of residence. Therefore, the results for this country of origin may be interpreted also as marriage importation.

Three relevant independent variables are included in the analysis to account for changes in the economic cycle and in the legal conditions that are expected to influence reunification. First, the Great Recession is measured through a dummy variable that takes the value of one from 2008 onwards when the economic cycle changed drastically. Second, immigration policy changes are measured by means of variables that inform whether a visa was required to visit Spain when reunification occurred. Thus, this variable takes the value of one after January 2002 for Colombians, after July 2003 for Ecuadorians and after January 2002 for Romanians. Finally, a remaining variable applying only to Romanians considers their entrance into the EU from 2007 onwards.

Additionally, sociodemographic variables such as sex, age and educational level are considered as independent variables. Education is coded as Primary or less, Low secondary (low vocational training included), Upper Secondary, Upper Vocational Training and Tertiary Education. Two variables are included regarding the migration processes. Firstly, the arrival cohort of the person is used, which is divided into five categories: arrived before 2000, arrived between 2000 and 2003, 2004 and 2005, 2006 and 2007 and from 2008 onwards. Second, and from a survival analysis perspective, the time elapsed since the arrival of the first partner is also included.

In order to model the spousal reunification process, survival analysis was used. The probability of living with a spouse, taking into account the theoretical and control variables previously described, was estimated through discrete time logistic models. In these models, the probability of reunification is considered to occur continuously over time, but it is observed discretely in every year since the migration of the primary migrant. The results of the estimation are shown in Tables 2 and 3, which include the associated coefficients and significance levels for the total group and for every country separately. Moreover, each estimation was calculated separately for men and women.

Finally, to shed light on the characteristics and determinants of reunifying migration, logit models for the probability of labor force participation in the period right after the arrival were estimated. This period is restricted to the first two years of residence in the country. Because the variable “years since migration” is only included in surveys conducted after 2007 and the available information covers only current labor status but not the complete labor trajectory, the model includes migrants who arrived from 2006 onwards. For this reason, the model contains a dummy variable with a value of one when the migrant arrived in 2008 or later and zero when she arrived in 2006 or 2007. In this model, information about the labor force participation of the reunifying spouse is included. This person can be classified as employed (reference category), unemployed and out of the labor force. Due to sample restrictions, the models are estimated for women only; one for all the countries and one for each country separately.

 

2. DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS Top

According to LFS data, by the end of 2014, 572,909 foreign-born people lived in Spain who had arrived after their spouse from the same country of birth. This represents 20% of the total married foreign-born population living in Spain and almost 10% of the total foreign population. Almost 177,000 arrived in Spain from 2008 onwards.

In order to describe the basic reunifying patterns, Table I shows the percentage of married migrants who lived with their spouses after three years in Spain for those who did not arrive at the same time (i.e., those who were reunified–by country, sex and educational level). Data are presented for people who arrived in 2000 and 2005. According to these descriptive results, the average propensity to reunify does not change between the two periods (both are 53%). The country with the highest propensity to reunify in both cohorts is Romania. Differences between the origin countries are larger for the first cohort, with a very low percentage of reunifications among Moroccans (22.5%) and a very high percentage among Ecuadorians (68%).

According to LFS data, men tend to reunify more than women, as opposed to that reported by Requena and Sanchez (2011Requena, M. and M. Sánchez-Domínguez. 2011. "Las familias inmigrantes en España". Revista Internacional de Sociología 69(M1):79-104. http://dx.doi.org/10.3989/ris.2011.iM1.387.) using data from the 2007 National Survey of Immigrants. This gender difference is much higher among the second cohort members than among the first. The reason for this could lie in the acute situation of occupations typically held by men during the Great Recession. If this were the case, incentives for men to reunify their wives would have decreased less than incentives for women to reunify their husbands.

Regarding educational level, migrants with primary education or less seem to reunify less often than the rest. This could be because their economic situation is more precarious or unstable than that of migrants with higher educational levels. Furthermore, among the members of the 2005 cohort, those with tertiary education seem to reunify less than the rest, approaching the rates of migrants with primary education.[23] This phenomenon may be related to the higher rate of return intentions among educated migrants found by Barrett and Trace (1998Barrett, A. and F. Trace. 1998. "Who is coming back? The educational profile of returning migrants in the 1990s". Irish Banking Review summer:38-52.) for the Irish case, which would entail a reduced intention to reunify.

Table I. Percentage of married primary migrants who reunified with their spouses after three years of residence by country of birth, sex and educational level. 2000 and 2005 arrival cohorts

Percentage of married primary migrants who reunified with their spouses after three years of residence by country of birth, sex and educational level. 2000 and 2005 arrival cohorts

Source: Authors based on data from the LFS 2007-2014.

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Figure 1 shows that people from Romania, the first country to be granted a visa exemption in Spain, have the highest reunifying intensity. In 2010, about three out of four Colombians, Ecuadorians and Moroccans who were married migrants and had arrived in 2000 were living with their spouses. The highest figure corresponds to Romanians: up to 85% of them lived together. Also, the difference in the speed of reunification also seems to be very relevant, with the reunification of Moroccans being much slower than the rest. While in 2003 almost one fourth of married Moroccans were living with their spouses, 56% of Colombians, 69% of Ecuadorians and 72% of Romanians were in the same situation.[24] For Colombians and Ecuadorians, the speed of reunification seems to slow down coinciding with the new visa requirement (2002 and 2003, respectively).

Figure 1. Percentage of total married migrants who live with a spouse, by year, 2000 arrival cohort

Percentage of total married migrants who live with a spouse, by year, 2000 arrival cohort

Source: Authors based on data from the LFS 2007-2014.

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For those who arrived in 2005 (Figure 2), reunification intensity is always lower than the one previously described. Romanian immigrants display the highest reunification rates, but the remaining countries come close. Couples born in Morocco do not show a slower pattern than the rest, in contrast with the performance of the 2000 group. For this cohort, the evolution is rather similar in every country, and the growth of reunified migrants slows down for all countries at the same time in 2008 when the economic cycle changed. Romanian immigrants, who were then EU citizens, are the only exception. After 2008, the reunification growth pattern practically stagnates for all countries but Morocco.

Figure 2. Percentage of total married migrants who live with a spouse, 2005 arrival cohort

Percentage of total married migrants who live with a spouse, 2005 arrival cohort

Source: Authors based on data from the LFS 2007-2014.

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For both cohorts, the percentages of reunified couples quickly increased in the first few years of residence despite the fact that they faced different socioeconomic contexts. While reunification slowed down for the first arrival cohort coinciding with policy restrictions in each country, for the second cohort (2005) there was not a slowdown until the economic cycle changed.

 

3. MULTIVARIATE ANALYSIS Top

In order to analyze the determinants of the reunification process, discrete time logistic models are estimated on the probability of living with the partner. Firstly, a model is estimated that includes in the sample married primary migrants from the four countries under study who are candidates to reunify with their partners (Table II). The independent variables refer to primary migrants’ characteristics. The results of the model indicate a different probability of spousal reunification for each country, thus confirming the results from the descriptive analysis. The probability of reunification is higher for Ecuadorian and Romanian couples—and notably for Romanians when the primary migrant is a man—than for Colombians. However, Moroccan men clearly have a lower probability of reunifying than Colombians, but Moroccan women do not exhibit this pattern. The beginning of the Great Recession is associated with a lower probability of reunification for both men and women. The model estimates confirm Hypothesis 2(a) according to which the change in the economic cycle is related to a decrease in the probability of spousal reunification. The results also show a somewhat stronger effect for women who reunify with their husbands, thus validating Hypothesis H2(b).

At this aggregate level, the model estimates suggest a positive effect of primary migrants’ education on the probability of reunifying with their spouses, but this pattern does not apply in the same way over all educational levels. Migrant men with tertiary education have a higher probability of bringing their partners to Spain than those with primary education or less, but the difference is smaller than it is for other educational levels. Besides, even if education plays a positive role for female primary migrants, there is no difference between women with primary education or less and women with tertiary education regarding the probability of reunifying. These results suggest that the migration projects of women with higher education may be less family oriented than those of the rest. The general positive effect of education may be interpreted as a result of different economic resources and the capacity to reunify.

Differences can also be observed in the temporary pattern of reunification by gender. According to the estimation results, men tend to reunify with their wives either in the first year after their arrival or after four years. But in the case of women, the probability of regrouping decreases progressively after the first year.

Table II. Discrete time logistic model on the probability of spousal reunification, married primary migrants from Colombia, Ecuador, Romania and Morocco. Coefficients

Discrete time logistic model on the probability of spousal reunification, married primary migrants from Colombia, Ecuador, Romania and Morocco. Coefficients

Source: Authors based on data from the LFS 2007-2014.

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Moving to the country level, it was found that national perspectives contribute some important details to the analysis (Table III). First of all, the results suggest that the visa requirement notably reduced the probability of reunification for both Colombian and Ecuadorian immigrants, as expected according to Hypothesis H1, but the reduction was very small for Romanian male primary migrants and none for Romanian female primary migrants. Therefore, the model confirms an effect of legislation changes.

The results of the model show that the economic period plays a different role in determining reunification depending on sex and country of birth. During the Great Recession, the probability of reunification among Colombian and Romanian migrants decreases notably. However, this effect is smaller, but relevant, for people born in Morocco, while it is not negative in the case of Ecuador. In fact, the effect is not significant for primary migrant women, and it appears to be positive for men, although with a low significance. One interpretation of this result could be that Ecuadorians followed a strategy of added worker to neutralize the effects of the crisis, according to which they reunified in order to obtain more resources in the host country.

Table III. Discrete time logistic model on the probability of spousal reunification, married primary migrants by country. Coefficients.

Discrete time logistic model on the probability of spousal reunification, married primary migrants by country. Coefficients.

Source: Authors based on data from the LFS 2007-2014.

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It is also worth noting that when there is a negative effect of the change in the economic period (as happens for Colombian, Romanian and Moroccan immigrants), such an effect is much larger for primary migrant women than it is for men. This seems a reasonable result, taking into account that the LMA of men is usually higher than that of women, and the crisis severely reduced employment opportunities. In fact, the participation rate differential of immigrant men vis-à-vis immigrant women in the Spanish labor market was 17 percentage points in 2008, falling thereafter to 12 points. This results confirms Hypothesis H2(b).

Moreover, the country-level perspective allows identifying divergent temporary patterns in the reunification processes, as expected in Hypothesis H3. On the one hand, the model shows an increasing probability of being reunified as time goes by, after the arrival of the first spouse. Moroccan primary migrant men notably represent this family strategy, but also Colombian men, although to a lesser extent. On the other hand, the probability of regrouping the spouse in the destination country decreases with time after arrival for both men and women from Ecuador and Romania. These countries represent a pattern of rapid family reunification in the host country.

In order to gain further insight into the migratory projects of reunified spouses, logit models were estimated on the probability of being in the labor force during the first two years of residence in Spain following reunification (Table IV). The results of the estimation suggest that the probability of working or searching for work is higher for reunified women who arrived during the crisis than those who arrived previously, as opposed to the prospects covered by Hypothesis H2(c). This result is found in all country models, except Romania. These estimations include the interaction between the labor market situation of the first partner who arrived in Spain and the reunifying period. The main driver of women’s participation is having an unemployed partner. Migrant women who arrived during the expansion period have a higher probability of participating when they have an unemployed partner, as compared to those who arrived in the same period, whose partner is employed.

Perhaps the most interesting result has to do with participation after the crisis begun. Migrant women who arrived in 2008 or later with an employed partner are more likely to be in the labor market than migrants with the same household situation who arrived during the expansion. The results show that those who arrived once the recession had begun and with an unemployed partner have a higher probability of participating in the labor market than women who arrived during the expansion and whose partner was employed. Similar results are found in the model estimations corresponding to Ecuador, Colombia and Morocco, but at country level no significant differences are found between women who arrived during the expansion with an unemployed partner and the reference category for Ecuador and Colombia. Still, the interaction results suggest that both the effects of having an unemployed partner and the economic period are additive, but not multiplicative.

Table IV. Logit model on the probability of labor force participation, female secondary migrants, all and by country of origin. Coefficients.

Logit model on the probability of labor force participation, female secondary migrants, all and by country of origin. Coefficients.

Source: Authors based on data from the LFS 2007-2014.

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4. CONCLUSIONS Top

The analysis carried out in this paper allows reaching two main conclusions. The first one deals with the effect of immigration policy on spousal reunification. In analyzing the effects of changes in admission clauses, the Spanish case seems to validate the first hypothesis of the paper, as tougher conditions to visit the country deter spousal reunification. Therefore, a policy devised for controlling tourist visits has a discouraging influence on spouse reunification. This apparent paradox regarding policy objectives and policy effects is not as surprising as it may seem, since during the Spanish immigration boom illicit immigration abounded, and reunifying partners, like other type of immigrants, may have arrived as tourists. This result is interesting from the academic perspective that devotes attention to the dynamics of immigration and to the difficulties involved in designing a reasonable policy mix in this regard (Castles 2004Castles, S. 2004. "The factors that make and unmake migration policies". International Migration Review 38(3):852-884. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-7379.2004.tb00222.x.).

The second conclusion is that spouse regrouping was also negatively affected by the Great Recession. Worsening employment perspectives after 2008 have slowed down the spousal reunification of immigrants coming from three out of the four countries considered (Ecuador being the exception). Furthermore, for Colombians, Romanians, and Moroccans, the negative effect of the crisis is relatively larger when the first member of the couple who arrived in Spain was a woman. This seems a reasonable result considering that job destruction in the Spanish labor market was especially severe in sectors and occupations typically occupied by men, like construction and industry.

Additionally, the four countries of immigrants’ origin considered in the paper reveal interesting differences. On the one hand, immigrants from Romania report the highest likelihood of spousal reunification despite the fact that full membership in the European Union, which occurred during the Great Recession, appears to have a negative influence on regrouping. On the other hand, Moroccan immigrants show the lowest and lengthiest progression in reunifying their partners, which may be associated to their relatively poor labor market positions in Spain.

Finally, a specific analysis was carried out on the labor market attachment of reunifying women after the crisis. The results show that women who joined their partners during the Great Recession have a higher probability of participating in the labor market when their husbands are unemployed, as compared to those employed or out of the labor market. These results are coherent with those presented by Angoitia and Tobes (2013Angoitia, M. and P. Tobes Portillo. 2013. "¿Cómo Afecta la Crisis Económica a la Población Laboral Inmigrante?". Paper presented to the X Jornadas de Economía Laboral, Madrid.), who found a reduction in the relative disadvantages of immigrant women during the Spanish crisis regarding unemployment likelihood. As the authors argued, this is due to a greater capacity to adapt to hardship and to their relatively rigid labor supply. Two considerations arise from this result. First, this could be surprising, insofar as people who migrate following others (via family or social ties) are assumed to have less LMA than early comers (Feliciano 2005Feliciano, C. 2005. "Educational selectivity in U.S. immigration: how do immigrants compare to those left behind?". Demography 42(1):131-152. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/dem.2005.0001.; Lobo and Salvo 1998Lobo, A. P. and J. J. Salvo. 1998. "Changing U.S. immigration law and the occupational selectivity of Asian immigrants". International Migration Review 32:0737-0760.). In the present case, the fact that they arrived during the crisis could add to the expectation of a low LMA, as initially expected (H2[c]). Second, the reunification of women who search for work can be interpreted as an added-worker effect. The hardship of the crisis could lead immigrants to reunify and to increase the family labor supply in order to maintain consumption and/or remittances. Nonetheless, the results indicate that reunification patterns after the crisis are not characterized by the prevalence of spouses with little LMA. On the contrary, reunification may be contributing to the maintenance of a low-level labor pool, as happened during the immigration boom in the first decade of the 21st century.

 

FUNDING Top

This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Project: DER2013-44950-R).

FINANCIACIÓN

Este trabajo se ha realizado gracias a la financiación del Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Proyecto: DER2013-44950-R).

 

NOTES Top

[1]

For instance, the crisis led the male unemployment rate to rise, which equalled the female rate in 2009 for the first time in 33 years.

[2]

Reduced wages may lead to diminished remittances and this could, in turn, generate a conflict that has already been documented between the partner and the in-laws as to the use of the money (de Haas and Fokkema 2010De Haas, H. and T. Fokkema. 2010. "Intra-Household Conflicts in Migration Decision Making: Return and Pendulum Migration in Morocco". Population and Development Review 36(3):541-561. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1728-4457.2010.00345.x.).

[3]

The education, skills and labor force attachment of the first migrants is usually higher than that of the followers (Feliciano 2005Feliciano, C. 2005. "Educational selectivity in U.S. immigration: how do immigrants compare to those left behind?". Demography 42(1):131-152. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/dem.2005.0001.).

[4]

See Organic Law 4/2000 of 1 January concerning the Rights and Liberties of Foreigners in Spain and their Social Integration. This act aimed to equate the constitutional rights of foreigners with those of nationals. It was voted on in the Spanish Parliament by the opposition parties and passed despite the objections of the Popular Party, which governed under a relative majority (Relaño 2004Relaño, E. 2004. "Los continuos cambios de la política de inmigración en España". Migraciones Internacionales 2(3):110-141.:112).

[5]

See Relaño (2004Relaño, E. 2004. "Los continuos cambios de la política de inmigración en España". Migraciones Internacionales 2(3):110-141.) for an evaluation of the legislation around the immigration boom.

[6]

This was the result of the GRECO Programme (Global Programme of Regulation and Coordination of Foreign Affairs and Immigration).

[7]

Organic Law 2/2009 of 11 December to reform the abovementioned Organic Law 4/2000.

[8]

A total of 164,619 family reunification permits were granted in December 2008. After an increase in 2009 (to a total of 229,211), the number of permits has fallen every year until reaching 103,994 in December 2015.

[9]

Compared to other destination countries around the world, the composition of incoming migration is multi-ethnic and rather heterogeneous in Spain. This heterogeneity could hinder the analysis, since multiple factors pertaining to countries and/or continents of origin may have effects on flows that compensate each other, making it difficult to reach conclusions.

[10]

See Kyle and Goldstein (2011Kyle, D. J. and R. Goldstein. 2011. "Migration industries: a comparison of the Ecuador-US and Ecuador-Spain cases". EU-US Immigration Systems, nº 2011/15. European University Institute.) for economic crisis issues in Ecuador at the turn of the century.

[11]

See Garay and Medina (2007Garay, L. J. and M. C. Medina. 2007. La migración colombiana a España. El capítulo más reciente de una historia compartida. Madrid: Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración, Observatorio Permanente de Inmigración.), who report how an acute economic crisis in coffee-producing areas contributed to outmigration.

[12]

Viruela (2008Viruela Martínez, R. 2008. "De Este a Oeste: la inmigración desde los nuevos países comunitarios (Rumanía y Bulgaria)". Cuadernos de geografía 84:127-134.) covered the severe economic problems faced by Romanians: rising unemployment, high inflation and a significant loss in purchasing power.

[13]

The National Immigrants Survey (Encuesta Nacional de Inmigrantes, ENI) was a wide, retrospective survey carried out by the National Statistical Office of Spain in 2007.

[14]

By the time the Spanish government withdrew the “voluntary return” policy, only 3000 out of the 24,000 applicants had travelled back to Ecuador. The government made the granting of work visas to the remaining 21,000 immigrants contingent upon the presentation of applications at the Ecuadorian consulates in Spain”.

[15]

The Schengen 2015 visa exemption affected Colombians and Peruvians also, but not Ecuadorians. See http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2015/06/11/actualidad/1434049088_862616.html.

[16]

Romanians residing in Spain prior to July 22nd 2011 were excluded from the visa requirement.

[17]

In other words, this paper looks at married people who have come to live together, but who may have entered Spain regularly or irregularly.

[18]

It must be clarified that the independent variable is not the legal arrangement of each family’s reunification process, which is unknown. Rather, landmarks given by significant legal modifications and/or the recession are expected to be the causes of changes.

[19]

Surprisingly enough, the regular reunification process for EU citizens is not the same for all nationals. The 2007 reform (RD 240/2007) introduced “inverse discrimination”, which treats spouses of Spanish nationals differently depending on whether the reunifying person has exercised free mobility (Rodriguez Candela and Boza 2011Rodríguez Candela, J. L. and D. Boza Martínez. 2011. "Los españoles también son ciudadanos de la Unión y otras consecuencias de la sentencia de la sala de lo contencioso-administrativo del Tribunal Supremo de 1 junio de 2010". Revista de Derecho Migratorio y Extranjería 26:189-203.).

[20]

There exists the possibility that a cohabitating partner arriving before 2009 may not be included in the data. There is also a possibility that a married partner arriving through regular channels and/or through work-related procedures is included.

[21]

Non-married couples are excluded from the analysis because information about the existence of this kind of relationship is not available if they do not live together.

[22]

This was calculated by comparing registered marriages of foreign-born people in the 11 years prior to the 2011 census with the non-single population that appears in this census, by country of birth. LFS proportions of endogamic marriages were used to estimate the total endogamic married population in the census.

[23]

For the purpose of this paper, it is assumed that immigrants had completed their education before migrating. Given the selected countries of origin, almost all the sample comprises economic immigrants and it is therefore unlikely that their educational qualifications were acquired in Spain.

[24]

As stated above, results for Morocco as a country of origin may be interpreted also as marriage importation. Despite the fact that Morocco is geographically much closer than the other three countries and is easier to visit while on vacation, finding a suitable partner nevertheless takes some time.

 

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About the authorsTop

FCO. JAVIER MATO DÍAZ is Associate Professor at the University of Oviedo (Department of Applied Economics). He holds a PhD in Economics from Oviedo, and a MSc in European Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. His main research deals with the analysis of labour market and related policies. He has published on issues like evaluation of unemployment training effects, analysis of school to work transitions, immigrants’ labour market outcomes, and unemployment protection programmes.

MARÍA MIYAR BUSTO is Associate Professor at UNED (Department of Sociology 2 – Social Stratification) in Madrid. She holds a Bachelor in Economics and a PhD in Sociology. Her main publications deal with the analysis of immigrants’ integration into the labour market and the evolution of migratory trends, as well as the quality of Spanish statistical sources on immigration.



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