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Migrant family visits and the life course: interrelationships between age, capacity and desire

Global Networks

Published online on


Migrant visits to the country of origin play a crucial role in transnational family cohesion and migrant well‐being; the research on them so far has focused primarily on the relationship between migrant integration and transnational engagement. In this article, I extend the discussion by adding a life course perspective to Carling and Hoelscher's (2013) framework for studying transnational activities, which incorporates capacity and desire. I explore whether age has an independent effect on migrants' family visits and how it relates to socio‐economic resources, migration status and transnational ties. Using data from a survey of Peruvian migrants around the globe (n=7,741), I show that migrants' stage in the life course has a partial effect on their propensity to travel through the interrelationship between age, capacity and desire. The findings show that the capacity and desire of migrants to visit their country of origin are particularly strong after reaching retirement age, suggesting a favourable combination of resources at later stages in life. However, whether this expresses a positive approach to ageing, or is a strategy to balance transnational family obligations and to postpone return decisions, remains open for future research.