Return Migration and Mixed Families: The Case of Finnish and Swedish Family Migration in a Transnational Context

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Osten WAHLBECK, University of Helsinki, Finland
The paper outlines the dynamics of transnational migration and social integration of Swedish citizens who have become part of the migration pattern of Finnish citizens returning to Finland.  As result of intermarriages and family ties with Finnish migrants, these Swedish citizens have become part of the mobility and cross-border activities of the large post-war Finnish migrant group. Previous research has outlined the crucial importance of family ties in order to understand the development of both transnational migration and social integration. Yet, the involvement of people of non-migrant background in return migration has not been much studied. This paper provides an attempt to clearly delineate and conceptualise this specific family migration phenomenon, which also tends to be gender specific. Sweden and Finland provide a good case for studying the development of migration patterns, since there has been a full freedom of movement and the migration patterns are well documented. Although Finnish citizens dominate the migration flows in both directions, the number of Swedish migrants has steadily increased. Especially, we find an increasing number of Swedish males moving from Sweden to Finland. The paper provides some suggestions on why this specific migration pattern is dominated by male migrants. The paper describes results from 30 interviews with Swedish immigrants living in mixed families in Finland. The results indicate that the Finnish partner to a large extent has facilitated the integration into Finnish society. The paper argues that the dynamics of both the migration patterns and the social relationships in Finland largely depends on the social ties of the Finnish family member.