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Immigration, children and families

Chapter in book
Authors Ulla Björnberg
An Magritt Jensen
Published in Challenges for future family policy in the Nordic countries
Pages 229-243
ISBN 978-87-7119-212-4
Publisher Danish National Centre for Social Research
Place of publication Köpenhamn
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 229-243
Language en
Keywords immigrant families, immigrant children
Subject categories Sociology


The flows of immigration for various reasons is part of the encompassing globalization of wealth and wealth inequalities and political responses to unrest and controversies. It is a movement of populations which will continue. In a Scandinavian and Nordic perspective the ways in which the Nordic welfare states will respond to immigration have important implications for families and the well-being of children in a short and long term perspective. There is a mutual interdependency between immigrants and the welfare states. For instance, in Sweden it is generally accepted that immigration is a necessary pre condition for economic growth and future prosperity of the welfare state. Integration policy is dependant of welfare policy and family policy. Many immigrants in the Scandinavian countries are experiencing long periods of economic deprivation. We have shown that not only economic deprivation but also uncertainity about the future have social and psychological costs for children and their families. We have pointed at that sense of solitude and of exclusion is an important part of the life of asylum seeking children and families. These emotions and practices are prevalent in all incorporation regimes, but the more the regimes are striving for treatments of citizens and immigrants alike the less exclusionary mechanisms are set in force. We can suppose that the restrictive conditions of the Danish incorporation regime and how it is connected with welfare support, the more we can expect that sense of exclusion will endure among Danish children and their families. A macro perspective on deterrence has micro political consequences of exclusion and sense of otherness among immigrants. The construction of an identity of immigrants is related to general attitudes that are embedded into regulations and practices applied during the whole process of seeking asylum, being interrogated, supplied with housing, health care, education waiting for permanent residence permits and being able to control their living conditions. We have shown that family relations, be they local or transnational, are very important during waiting. For this reason, it is important that families can provide support and care and have an ability to control their life.. This is why family reunification means a lot for families even if it in a short term perspective might be regarded as an economic risk by the host society. Social networking can be supportive both for resilience under tough circumstances. However segregation and long duration of economic deprivation are counteracting resilience strategies and integration. Thus, immigration in its various forms poses new challenges for family policy.

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