Universiteit Maastricht

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Funded projects


Migrations between Africa and Europe (MAFE)

International migration from Sub-Saharan Africa to Europe is of major concern for both African and European policy makers. Within Africa, there is widespread concern about the loss of skilled professionals, but also growing government interest in the potential contribution of Africa’s diasporas and moves to incorporate migration as a cross-cutting issue in their Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). Meanwhile, in Europe, there is growing recognition that ‘selective’ migration may be necessary to meet the goals of the Lisbon Agenda, but significant and persistent concern about irregular migration exists. Yet both the scope of African migration to Europe, and its consequences for poverty, remain poorly understood, and as a result, policies are often ineffective.

The MAFE project aims to fill this gap in knowledge by collecting and disseminating unique, reliable and representative data on the characteristics and behaviour of migrants from Africa to Europe, both documented and undocumented. Using these data, the project aims to provide policy makers with new and accurate analyses on the:

- changing patterns of African migration to Europe;
- determinants of this migration, and of return and circulation of migrants;
- socio-economic and demographic changes that result from international migration.

The basic hypothesis of the MAFE project is that international migrations are not simply uni-directional flows between departure and destination countries that respond to economic or demographic differentials between the two. Rather, flows are increasingly fragmented and dispersed, creating diverse ‘migration systems’ that critically affect the development of subsequent migration.

The MAFE data will consist of comparable data between six European and three Sub-Saharan African countries (Senegal, Ghana, Congo). The data will be longitudinal and multi-level. In Africa, representative samples of about 1,500 individuals (non migrants and return migrants) will be randomly drawn in selected regions of each country. In Europe, about 150 migrants per origin will be selected in each destination country, that are linked to the African sample.

NL-Coordinator: Prof. Valentina Mazzucato




Effects of transnational child-raising arrangements on life-chances of children, migrant parents and caregivers in Ghana and The Netherlands (TCRA)

Transnational family arrangements are prevalent the world over with one or both parents located overseas and children left in their country of origin to be raised by an extended family member or friend. In some cases such arrangements are the result of stringent migration policies in Europe and elsewhere in the Global North, which make it difficult for families to migrate together. In others, they are the preferred choice of family members especially in societies where child fostering is a common practice, such as in many places in Africa.

Yet despite the prevalence of these arrangements, little is known about them, and especially in Africa. Family sociology studies tend to focus on migrant families that live together in the Global North, while economic and migration studies that focus on countries in the global South concentrate on the effects of remittances, ignoring what migration does to family relationships.

This interdisciplinary program investigates the effects of transnational child-raising arrangements between Ghana and The Netherlands on the three main actors involved: children, caregivers and parents by focusing on a) educational/job, health and emotional outcomes and b) how these arrangements function. It will also look at how three types of institutions: schools in Ghana, child fostering norms in Ghana and family migration laws in The Netherlands, influence and/or are affected by transnational child-raising arrangements. Four projects in Ghana and The Netherlands will answer these questions by using a multi-sited research design and mixed-method methodology.

Maastricht University collaborates with the University of Ghana to carry out this program.

Project leader: Prof. Valentina Mazzucato

Research Project Officer: Patricia Jaspers

Project website.

Effects of transnational child-raising arrangements on life-chances of children, migrant parents and caregivers between Africa and Europe (TCRAf-Eu)

The study builds on the TCRA program above on transnational child-raising arrangements between Ghana and The Netherlands and adds a cross-country comparative dimension by including Angola and Nigeria as migrant origin countries and Portugal and Ireland as migrant destination countries.

The program seeks to understand three dimensions of transnational child raising arrangements: 1) How do TCRAs affect life chances of children who remain in the country of origin, their migrant parents and their caregivers? 2) How are TCRAs affected by migration laws in Europe and the institution of child fosterage in Africa and how are schools in African countries affected by TCRAs? 3) How do the different sending and receiving country contexts affect the functioning and outcomes that TCRAs have on the different actors?

In so doing the programme addresses three important areas of scholarly and policy debates: migration and development, migration and integration and family reunification policies.

Maastricht University coordinates the study and collaborates with University College Cork in Ireland and Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies in Norway. NORFACE (New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Co-operation in Europe) is a consortium of fourteen research councils (including the Dutch NWO) created to increase co-operation in research and research policy in Europe.

Project leader: Prof. Valentina Mazzucato

Research Project Officer: Patricia Jaspers

Project website.


The functioning and consequences of transnational child raising arrangements in South and North: Angolan, Nigerian and Ghanaian migrant parents living in South Africa and The Netherlands (TCRA-SAN)

This program aims to contribute to the emerging field of transnational family research by systematically analyzing the effects of living in transnational families on migrant parents, by comparing the same groups of origin in South-North and South-South migratory flows. Parents migrate while leaving their children in the care of someone else in the origin country in order to ensure the well-being of their family. This leads to transnational families the world over with members spread in different nation-states. Such a phenomenon is present both in the Global North as well as the Global South yet we know little about the consequences of such family arrangements for the people involved.

The program complements two ongoing international studies on transnational child raising arrangements, TCRA (WOTRO/NWO grant number W 01.66.2008.012) and TCRAf-Eu (NORFACE-315) projects, in two ways. First, it adds a qualitative understanding to the systematic, large-scale comparative analyses conducted in the two aforementioned projects. Second, it incorporates an additional comparative dimension to the projects by including a South-South migration flow.

The research project proposes to study the same groups of migrant parents (Angolans, Nigerians and Ghanaians) in The Netherlands and in South Africa. This comparative dimension helps us investigate the differences between South-North and South-South migration flow effects on families. It explores factors that positively and negatively impact on migrant parents’ well-being, by comparing the same groups of migrants but in different migratory flows. Hardly any studies exist on transnational child raising arrangements within a South-South migratory context and none, to our knowledge, compare these to South-North migratory contexts.

The total project consists of 2 sub-projects that together will answer the main research questions:
• How do transnational child raising arrangements function amongst Nigerian and Angolan migrant parents living in The Netherlands and amongst Nigerian, Angolan and Ghanaian parents in South Africa?
• What are the consequences of transnational child raising arrangements on parents’ well-being as defined by their job performance, emotional well-being and health outcomes?
Maastricht University collaborates with the University of Cape Town to carry out this program.

Project leader: Prof. Valentina Mazzucato

Research Project Officer: Patricia Jaspers

Project website.