Migration and discrimination

Return Migration of First‑Generation Immigrants in Belgium

Factors Associated with Return Migration of First‑Generation Immigrants in Belgium (2001–2011)

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Belgium is a country with a long and diverse history of migration. Given the diverse context of immigration to Belgium, reasons for return migration will most likely vary as well. With this study, we want to quantify the return migration of Belgium’s immigrants and assess whether socio-economic, sociodemographic and health factors are related to return migration. Individually linked census and register data comprising the total Belgian first-generation immigrant population aged 25+ were used. Age-standardized emigration rates (ASER) by migrant origin and gender were calculated for the period 2001–2011. Additionally, relative return migration differences were calculated by country of origin and gender, adjusted for age group, length of stay, household composition, socio-economic indicators (education, home ownership and employment status) and self-rated health in 2001. Return migration was most common among immigrants from Spanish descent and from the neighbouring countries and higher among men than among women. Return migration was highly selective in terms of older age, lower length of stay in Belgium, not living with a partner or children, being high-educated, unemployed and in good health. Key issues for future research include examining the reasons for return migration, identifying the country of destination and accounting for household characteristics.