Examining the Destination Effects on Immigrant Integration and Wellbeing: The Case of Vietnamese Marriage Migrants in Taiwan and South Korea

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:00 PM
Room: 313+314
Distributed Paper
Hsin-Chieh CHANG , California Center for Population Research, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Literature on international migration tends to focus on how migration impacts the sending or the receiving societies. Rarely have studies contrast the effects of different destinations on migrants, because of the difficulty obtaining comparable data and controlling the effects of origin. Depending on migrants’ nationalities/ethnicities and different motivations for migration, destination effects that are significant to migrants’ social integration and wellbeing range from country-specific economic conditions, regional cultural traditions, to socio-political policies. This paper uses mixed-methods to compare the integration experiences of Vietnamese Marriage Migrants (VMMs) who migrated to Taiwan and Korea for similar reasons and share similar sociodemographic backgrounds. Fifty-five qualitative interviews, four focus groups, and small-small survey (N=403) were collected during 10-month field research. Other than the differences in Taiwanese and Korean societies’ manner of organizing migration, preliminary analysis of qualitative data shows that three crucial factors determine VMMs’ process of social integration and wellbeing in Taiwan and South Korea: (1) how their Confucian gender systems influence domestic women’s social rights/roles/status and to what extents it applies to VMMs; (2) how these two societies fare in the regional and global economy, which affects the possibilities that VMMs achieve economic integration in the domestic labor markets; and (3) how national integration policies include marriage migrants of different ethnicities in reconstructing national identities, and specifically in addressing the integration of VMMs as they represent the largest migrant group without ethnic ties to the host societies. The paper ends with a discussion on how social welfare organizations and grassroots movements in Taiwan and South Korea may affect VMMs and other marriage migrants' integration and wellbeing in the long run.  By untangling the effects of origin and destinations, this study suggests that policy adjustments can result in sustainable co-development for both the sending and receiving societies and improve migrant integration and wellbeing.