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The subjective wellbeing of African transnational parents in Europe

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 -
1:00pm to 2:00pm
Oxford Department of International Development, Mansfield Road
Seminar Room 3

Part of the 'Migration to, through and from Africa: An African conversation' series, convened by Robtel Neajai Pailey and Marie Godin.

Speaker: Bilisuma B. Dito, Maastricht University

Studies on the transnational family highlight the emotional difficulties of migrant parents separated from their children through international migration. This article consists of a large-scale quantitative investigation into the insights of transnational family literature by examining the well-being of transnational parents compared with that of parents who live with their children in the destination country. Furthermore, through a survey of Angolan migrant parents in both the Netherlands and Portugal, we compare the contexts of two receiving countries. Our study shows transnational parents are worse off than their non-transnational counterparts in terms of four measures of well-being - health, life satisfaction, happiness, and emotional well-being. Although studies on migrant well-being tend to focus exclusively on the characteristics of the receiving countries, our findings suggest that, to understand migrant parents' well-being, a transnational perspective should also consider the existence of children in the migrant sending country. Finally, comparing the same population in two countries revealed that the receiving country affects the way in which transnational parenting is associated with migrant well-being.


Scholars of African descent have increasingly contributed to the growing body of knowledge on African migratory flows, even though Africans have often been depicted as ‘objects’ rather than ‘subjects’ of scholarly inquiry. In this seminar series, we ‘reverse the gaze’ by showcasing cutting edge research conducted by African scholars who examine migration to, through and from Africa.

From early career researchers to more established academics, the presenters in our series demonstrate the geographic diversity of African migration patterns by showcasing how Africans on the move are part and parcel of broader processes of social, political and economic development across the continent and beyond. In doing this, they prove that “Africans have always produced knowledge about their continent, even though their contributions have been ‘preferably unheard’ in some cases and ‘deliberately silenced’ in others” (Pailey, 2016).

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Jenny Peebles
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