Social Integration and Post-Divorce Wellbeing Among Marriage Migrants: Evidence and Policy Implications

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Hsin-Chieh CHANG, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
The social phenomenon of intra-Asia marriage migration has received considerable attention from marriage and family scholars. One common observation across several new immigrant destinations, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, are the relative high prevalence of divorce among these transnational marriages. What happens to marriage migrants who choose to remain in the host societies after getting a divorce? In this article, I use a unique social survey in South Korea to investigate the associations between social integration and post-divorce wellbeing among 2435 female marriage migrants who come from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and several other Asian societies. Descriptive results show that the self-rated health and life satisfaction of migrant divorcees are significantly worse than the average of all marriage migrants. Compared with all marriage migrants in the sample, migrant divorcees maintain less social relationships with Koreans and more of them perceived discrimination in daily lives. Logistic regressions indicate that social relationships with Koreans play a crucial role in migrant divorcees’ better wellbeing. Those who have Korean friends to turn to when in trouble and to spend leisure time with reported significantly better health (OR=1.48) and life satisfaction (OR=1.55) than those who do not have social relationships with Koreans. However, perceived discrimination is significantly associated with worse health and life satisfaction. Such results indicate both the positive and negative consequences of social interactions with the native population, which is especially important for migrant divorcees who lack of social support from natal families in the host societies. Furthermore, I examine the effects of other aspects of social integration-related factors and the influence of marital family’s socioeconomic status on migrant divorcees’ wellbeing. Using the case of migrant divorcees in South Korea, this article ends with policy implications on social integration that may inform other marriage migrant receiving societies within and beyond Asia.