Relationship Trajectories, Living Arrangements, and International Migration Among Ghanaians

K. Caarls*, H.A.G. de Valk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Despite the linked nature of life events, the existing literature mainly analyses union formation, living arrangements, and international migration separately. In this paper we explore how Ghanaian couples' relationship trajectories are related to international migration. Data come from the Migration between Africa and Europe-Ghana survey (n= 868) and capture unique retrospective life histories of Ghanaians between age 21 and 35 (migrants and non-migrants), enabling us to analyse relationship histories and their development over time in a context of international migration while taking the socio-cultural practice of non-residential unions into account. We applied sequence analyses to describe trajectories and optimal matching to identify clusters of typical trajectories. Using multinomial logit models, we investigated the association between migration and the four identified relationship paths. Our results show that relationships and living arrangements evolve in a wide variety of ways, underlining the importance of a dynamic approach. The complexity in relationship trajectories is reflected in the four typical clusters that captured this diversity in a more simplified way: (1) co-residential marriages; (2) singles; (3) mixed trajectories; and (4) nonresidential marriages. Our results further suggest that socialisation and disruption of family behaviours are both occurring among migrants. We also found that non-residential unions are commonplace among migrants and non-migrants alike, demonstrating that this living arrangement is not necessarily related to international migration. However, nonresidential relationships are most common among migrants, and migrant women in particular. Copyright (C) 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2046
Number of pages18
JournalPopulation Space and Place
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • relationship trajectories
  • international migration
  • Ghana
  • sequence analysis
  • optimal matching
  • life course research


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