Unravelling binational partnerships in the UK: the characteristics of EU-born nationals

Jane C. Falkingham, University of Southampton
Maria Evandrou, University of Southampton
Zixhin Frank Feng, University of Southampton
Athina Vlachantoni, University of Southampton

Existing literature has investigated the characteristics of binational partnerships in a small number of European countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, but such research has not been replicated in the UK context. Understanding the prevalence and characteristics of binational partnerships is a critical policy issue in the UK context, as the country edges closer to a public referendum on its membership in the European Union. In the event of a so-called ‘Brexit’ the rights and responsibilities of non-UK, European nationals and their families could be significantly affected. Against this context, this paper draws on the 2011 Census for England and Wales in order to investigate the characteristics of non-UK European nationals resident in England and Wales. The preliminary findings show that just over four per cent of individuals living in England and Wales in 2011are Europe-born nationals; almost two-thirds are employed; just over half are single never-married; and approximately half of them have at least one dependent child. About one-third of men and one-fifth of women in this group were partnered with a British-born individual. Such findings contribute to our understanding of the current situation of binational partnerships in the UK, which can in turn inform our understanding of their potential situation in the future if a ‘Brexit’ occurs. The next part of the analysis draws on the latest wave of the UK Household Longitudinal Survey (Understanding Society) in order to explore in greater detail the demographic, socio-economic and health characteristics of such individuals who are in partnerships with British individuals or with non-British individuals from other European countries.

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Presented in Session 78: Family structure