“It Wasn’t My Idea to Come Here!”: Young Women Lack Ownership of the Idea to Immigrate

Together with getting married and buying a house, the decision to immigrate is one of the most important decisions that a person can make.  So, it’s important that immigrants feel that they have satisfactory input into the process of deciding whether or not to immigrate.  In some recent research, I looked at a very early stage of this decision-making process: ownership of the idea to immigrate.

I analysed survey data from 1,702 married immigrants to Australia. Each immigrant was asked “whose idea was it to emigrate to Australia?” Responses were coded as indicating either sole ownership (“It was my idea”), joint ownership with spouse or partner (“We thought of the idea together”), or no ownership (“It was my husband or wife’s idea”).

Surprisingly, I found gender, age, and cross-cultural differences on this very simple, early-stage measure of decision-making. Women were significantly less likely than men to claim ownership of the idea to immigrate, and this lack of ownership went on to predict women’s lack of satisfaction following their move to Australia.

In addition, young women and nonWestern women were less likely than older women and Western women to claim ownership of the idea to immigrate. This pattern of results may reflect a lack of power experienced by young and nonWestern women in their marriages.

The present findings do not imply that young or female immigrants were in any way forced or coerced to migrate to Australia.  However, they do provide some cause for concern, especially given that ownership of the idea to immigrate appears to predict subsequent satisfaction in the new country.

A self-archived version of this journal article is available here.

Note: The views expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Australian Government's Department of Immigration and Citizenship.