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Doing Family on the Move

Highly-Skilled Migrants in Switzerland and Germany

Florian Tissot

This book focuses on the coordination between family life and professional career under the condition of repeated mobilities. It analyses the division between the labour force work and the care work of couples of highly-skilled migrants settling in either Switzerland or Germany. A mutually exclusive model provides an innovative understanding of gendered hierarchies in career achievement. The male partners operate three parallel elements: an upward professional career, a family-life implying child(ren), and maintaining their availability to further unplanned relocations. The female partners can only coordinate two of these concurrently. In fact, the male partners combine the three elements by taking advantage of specific, and mostly invisible, care work that the female partner provides.

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10 Recommendations for Practice

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10 Recommendations for Practice

Chapter 10 considers recommendations to create a fairer division of care work and labour force work between partners by focusing on three elements: (1) the division of the care work after the birth of a child, (2) the childcare provision and the “family policy” available to the partners in the two regions of investigation, and (3) the support of the employing companies. Thus, the chapter is structured around three main parts. In the first part, I discuss the “critical time” corresponding to the arrival of the first child. I show how this crucial moment combined with a lack of care support leads to the hierarchisation of one professional career over the other between partners that has lasting effects. The second part deals with the “critical places”. As mentioned earlier, my study focuses on the development of gendered hierarchies in two specific regions; namely the Geneva region and the Frankfurt region. I point out differences between the Geneva and Frankfurt regions when it comes to childcare by looking at the empirical results and by contextualising the two regions (Chapter 5). I stress that the “family policies” of the Frankfurt region are more attentive to the challenges of coordinating family life and professional careers. The third and last part of the chapter addresses the companies. Here, I underline the importance and the relevance of the company’s support to the partners, by acknowledging the complexity of “doing family” on the move.

10.1 Migration, Children, and Gender Wage Gap

Many recent studies in economics show that the birth of a child creates inequalities in the labour market between partners (Blau and Kahn 2017; Goldin et al. 2017; Hausmann, Tyson, and Zahidi 2009; Hirsch, Schank, and Schnabel 2010; Kleven, Landais, and Søgaard 2018; Schmid 2016). Though these studies take place in a “sedentary” context (in which mobility and “motility” are not accounted for), they underline a range of gendered dynamics within couples and “elementary families” that explain the construction of the “gender wage gap” (Blau and Kahn 2017). The interruption or the diminution of the female partners’ labour work force, because of child care work, is central to explaining earnings differentials between men and women99.

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According to Kleven et al. (2018), the impact of children on women’s earnings is long-lasting; women do not catch up with the loss of income, even after ten years. This creates a critical gap between men and women, as women receive a lower income for the rest of their professional careers. Children also affect career progression; studies show that women still get a lower income than their similarly qualified male counterparts and have less chances to reach top positions (OECD 2012; Webb 2017). Here, the image of the “glass ceiling” is apt. Figure 27 shows that women reach the same level of income they had before the birth of a child only 7 years later. To put it bluntly, a child gives men 7 years advancement, contributing to the “hierarchy of position” (7.2.1 Structural Constraints, 187). Such is a “critical moment” in one’s career trajectory (Riaño et al. 2015). Centrally, the division of care work between partners is the underlying generator of inequalities in the labour market. If women earn less, it is mainly because they either completely stop or decrease their working hours to do the unpaid care work. On top of that, reducing to part-time work is often a permanent and not a temporary strategy (OECD 2012, 159). Men do not change their work hours and maintain their earning when they become fathers, as the left graph of Figure 27 shows. Moreover, Hirsch, Schank, and Schnabel (2010) – focusing on Germany – speak of the “monopsonistic firms power” to explain how employers take advantage of the fact that women’s labour supply is less elastic than men’s. Indeed, women tend to take other considerations into account such as the necessity to do the care work for the children when considering their position in the labour force. They will, for instance, only accept positions that are not too far away from the children’s school. The authors argue that this situation explains why there is up to one third of a gender pay gap in Germany (2010, 314). In other words, men are more “motile” when it comes to considering interesting positions independent of care work. The “motile family-strategy” corroborates this, showing once again the gendered impact of “motility”. The fact that men and women work in different sectors is another factor explaining the gender wage gap (Schmid 2016, 462). The male-dominated sectors typically pay more than the female-dominated ones. All these factors are important to understanding the “gender wage gap” and the “glass ceiling”; but centrally, recent studies underline that “the gender gap increases with family foundation and bringing up children” (2016, 455). My study corroborates this result, as it shows the process of the construction of gendered hierarchies between partners. In the context of highly-skilled migration, the female partners, however, have to face another layer of challenges linked to the very experience of migration. My analysis stresses how “motility” (Flamm and Kaufmann 2006) is a factor leading to the prioritisation of one (and only one) professional career creating an unequal division of care work. In fact, ←309 | 310→the “motile family-strategy” often implies that the female “secondary-mover” sacrifices her career to do all the care work.

The worst-case scenario for a female partner – who not only wants to remain employed but who also desires professional advancement – is to face a resignation, a pregnancy, and a relocation simultaneously. This combination creates a strong hierarchisation of the professional careers, favouring a traditional “family-strategy” potentially leading to a “motile family-strategy”. This combination of resigning and relocating while being pregnant (or having a baby) comes with another striking element: the lack of mobilisation of any kind of external care support. When the partners arrive in the new region, the female does not have the time to mobilise any kind of support, as the care work for babies is extremely time-consuming. Even though she may want to seek child care, she usually does not yet have local knowledge or access to the appropriate networks to find it. Here, the male partner and the employing company can help by providing relevant and trustworthy information. I will develop this point in the recommendation for the “primary-movers” and for companies. Furthermore, arranging child care takes time; waiting-lists for day care centres are important in both the Frankfurt and Geneva regions. In other words, the partners relocate at the moment when external care support would be of the uppermost importance so that the female partner might maintain a professional activity. As seen in the case studies, typically the “primary mover” does not help either.

In addition, the state of “liminality” implied by the “motility” of the “primary-mover” is destabilising for the “secondary-mover”, as she is always trapped between one place and another. Looking for a position in the labour force is already a challenge, but when the “secondary mover” must first develop the right conditions to be in the position to seek employment i.e., to have the time to do so, the task is even more of a challenge. The Damocles sword of a next relocation is always there and is unsettling (in all senses of the word). Maria, who developed a narrative to hide the possibility of a further relocation, always convincing herself that they have settled for good (7.3.1 Ignoring Motility, 208), exemplifies just how much of challenge a relocation represents.

This array of factors, keeping “secondary-movers” from seeking external support for care work, is linked with a third aspect, which I call the “illusion of the independence of the nuclear family”. When the respondents display their family as a team, as Kim does (7.2.1 Structural Constraints, 187), I argue that they imply its self-sufficiency. Sentences like: “you can move your family if it works well, it’s your base” (Xavier, 50yrs, married)100 are common in the discourses ←310 | 311→emphasising “motility”. They encourage the “secondary-mover” to do all the care work while the family settles into a new region, which keeps her from finding care support for the children. Again, the absence of support from the male partners is striking is these cases. There are, other types of “family-strategy” in which the “secondary-mover” uses a mix of different types of care support. Through a “half-move”, I showed how Manon maintains her inclusion in the labour market by making use of her maternity leave. The absence of support for the care work of a small child, while being abroad, is one major reason that prevents /forbids the female partner from joining the labour force. Having to do all the care work leaves little or no time for her to develop her own projects. When the children reach school age, she has, arguably, more time to seek a position in the labour force but the “hierarchy of the position” is already established and the time of care work has created a gap in her CV.

Table 16: Implication box 5. Source: Own Elaboration.

Recommendations for the Female “Secondary-Movers”
The combination of a pregnancy, resigning from a current position, and a relocation – especially when the “primary-mover” is “motile” – creates a dearth of care work support. This lack of support makes it very difficult for the female partner to have the time to seek employment in the labour force. To stay employed in the labour market, I would recommend the female partner not follow her partner abroad while pregnant or with a baby, as the absence of support after the relocation creates the conditions for being out of the labour force for some time. Some women follow while being on maternity leave creating different conditions of support and subsequently different possibilities of reintegrating into the labour force.

The female partner not only loses (a part of) her income, she also loses part of her capacity to negotiate on equal terms with the male partner when it comes to further professional decisions. In the empirical part, I develop the concept of a “hierarchy of positions”: a process by which the male partner negotiates to his advantage, because he earns more, “so it made more sense for us like that” he could argue retrospectively. The male partners develop a justifying discourse on how the “family-strategy” becomes unequal because it is, allegedly, the choice that makes more sense for them collectively. I speak of a Foucauldian moment (1994, 66) because the micro relations of power – in this case the male partner using his higher income to maintain his professional activity and thus maintaining his independence – reinforces the large scaled strategies of power – patriarchy in contemporary societies – which are in turn used to justify the micro relations of power (Implication box 5).

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Yet, many male partners work hard in the labour force, as they feel they need to maintain the family’s standard of living. Many of them do not help with the unpaid care work. In this configuration, the male partners rarely acknowledge the possibility of decreasing their working hours to support their partner with the care work. They fear that this would put their careers at risk, as they work in a competitive milieu. In fact, it is exactly what happens to the female partners and this situation is widespread to the extent that it creates the gender wage gap. Furthermore, it creates a vicious circle within an “elementary family”. As long as the female partner does the care work and cannot have time to look for a position in the labour force, her chances of finding a paid position in the labour force are low, if non-existent. If she had time to seek and find employment in the labour force, he would not have the only income – creating more financial security for the family. How is it possible to break this “vicious circle”?

Table 17: Implication box 6. Source: Own Elaboration.

Recommendations for the Male “Primary-Movers”
The “primary-mover” can support the “secondary mover”. Principally, this support implies negotiating with the employer to be able to better integrate labour force work and care work. A first step is about raising these issues in the labour force. This does not have to mean reducing the number of hours worked in the labour force per week (though it can mean that); but rather it means speaking about the integration of care work and labour force work and finding arrangements to give the “secondary-mover” the necessary time to seek employment. Sharing the private agenda with the employer or looking actively for a day care solution are helpful first steps.

I argue that better coordination between labour force work and care work is key. I showed some cases of respondents who managed to coordinate both. Though, these cases are the ones of divorced mothers, they stress the possibility of a better coordination between both. Yuna and Julia (8.3.3 Separations and Divorces, 258) find arrangements with their employer. They negotiate within the labour force; they use their “voice” in Hirschmann’s terms (1970). Acknowledging that they the “primary movers” can help is key. They can either reduce their working hours, develop a better coordination between their work in the labour force and the care work or look for a day care solution in order to create better conditions for the “secondary-mover” to have the time to look for employment. Having more than one income in the family reduces the pressure the “primary mover” might feel to (over)work. Julia shares her private agenda with her employer, allowing him or her to know when it is best for Julia to have meetings or to plan business trips. She also specifically asked not to be ←312 | 313→relocated in the next years. By creating a better coordination and by reducing her “motility”, she is able to maintain a full-time position in the labour force while doing as well as delegating care work. Her case stresses the need to mobilise care support, as she cannot rely on a partner to do it; which is coincidently the case for dual career couples. A better coordination could imply flexible home-office arrangements to fit with the schedule of a day care centre as well as flexible working hours to allow partners to share the care work. He could start earlier while she brings the children to a day care centre and vice versa in the evening. I argue that for dual career couples with children, childcare provision is a necessity, especially for families on the move. The central point is that the “primary-movers” must speak about coordinating both with their employer and generally acknowledge the value of doing so. For this to happen, a change in the mentality of both the employers and the employees is required. I will show in the next subchapter that legal provisions for paternity leave are positive in this regard, as they normalise the fact that a male reduces or stops his activity in the labour force for a time to do the care work (Implication box 6).

In the first part of this chapter, I have dealt with the “critical moment” of the arrival of a child by focusing on the partners. I will now switch to the “critical places”, contextualising the regions of Geneva and Frankfurt through the lens of childcare.

10.2 Childcare in the Geneva and the Frankfurt regions

Those female partners who are able to maintain a position in the labour force mobilise external support for the care work. Here I refer to a mix of care work support to emphasise the use of formal, non-formal, and informal care support. Maintaining a position in the labour market is conditional on the arrival of a child, also on the notions of inclusion in the labour force and the availability of a comprehensive “family policy”. If the mother works in the labour force in a region where the “family policy” truly supports her, the pressure to quit the labour force is small. On the contrary, if she works in the labour force where the “family policy” is conservative, the need to resign is high. For the OECD, the “family policies” have an economic significance as “gender equality and a more efficient use of skills are essential to achieving strong and sustainable growth” (2012, 23). Thus, there is an economic case for both regions to develop comprehensive “family policies”. In sum, the “family policies” are essential for the regions and determinant for the parents who want to develop a dual career.

At the end of my contextualisation in the subchapter 5.2.1 (p. 124), I asked how does the “formal care” happen under the conditions of repeated professional ←313 | 314→mobility? The concept “family-strategies” gives some insights into this question, as the type of “family-strategy” strongly affects the reception of care work support. In the case of the “motile family-strategy”, “formal care” is more difficult to facilitate because the “female partner” relocates without a position in the labour force. The situation is different for partners who make use of a “local family-strategy”. Dual career couples are more common in the realm of the “local family-strategy” because the partner out of the labour force has more time to find a new position. Thus, the “local family-strategy” is a fruitful field to understand the differences between the regions of Frankfurt and Geneva when it comes to childcare.

In the contextual chapter, I showed discrepancies in terms of “family policy” between these two regions and these were corroborated by the empirical evidence. The more developed “family policy” of the Frankfurt region favours the inclusion of the two partners in the labour force. For those partners who wish to develop a dual career, maternity and paternity leave create favourable conditions for maintaining two professional careers. In fact, these insurances are even more important for highly-skilled migrants as they have less opportunities to receive informal care support as most of them cannot have access to the “hidden economy of kinship”.

Table 18: Implication box 7. Source: Own Elaboration.

Recommendations for Both Regions
It is not only about developing the formal conditions to allow fathers to take paternity leave, but also about encouraging behaviours leading to a fairer share between partners of the care work required for a child. In both regions, fathers should be encouraged to take more time caring for their child(ren). The mothers who want to develop a professional career could thus have more time to seek employment in the labour force. Achieving both these objectives requires a strong childcare provision, namely through increased accessibility to day care centres for pre-school children.

It is not a coincidence that Lynn and Alex manage to maintain two positions in the labour force while Annisa and Adrian cannot (8.3.1 Low Support for the Care Work, 249; 8.3.2 Combination of Formal, Informal and Non-Formal Care Support, 252). Annisa mentioned several times her wish to stay in the labour force following the births of their children, but ultimately she had to resign. The lack of childcare support in the Geneva region largely explains her situation and in that sense, Annisa lives in a “critical place”. When it came to “formal care”, Annisa’s maternity leave was shorter than Lynn’s. Furthermore, Alex took a paternity leave while Adrian did not, as the possibility did not exist in the Geneva region. A key sentence of Alex’s argument was: “people do it all the time, ←314 | 315→it [fathers taking a paternity leave] happens almost all the time, they take this time off” (Alex, 52yrs, married). In fact, it is not only about the possibility to do so, it is also a matter of peoples’ attitudes and openness towards paternity leave. Alex’s insistence that “almost everybody is doing it” underlines a change in the “gender culture” (Pfau-Effinger 1998) within his company. The data of the OECD corroborates this and shows a general trend in Germany. The attitude towards the statement that “women should be prepared to cut down on paid work for the sake of the family” diminished slightly in Germany while it remained the same in Switzerland (OECD 2012, 210). Yet, both in Switzerland and in Germany more than half of the respondents agree with this statement. It is still far away from countries like Denmark or Sweden where less than 25% of the respondents agree with this statement. For the OECD: “the shortage of formal childcare for very young children (…) reinforce parents’ attitudes towards employments and care” in which the women does the care work (ibid). At the beginning of the current chapter, I said that the key to reducing the gender wage gap is a fairer division of the care work between the parents. To achieve this, the partners need external care support as well as a change in attitudes regarding “who should do the care work”. These two elements argue in favour of more formal childcare provision as it, arguably, impacts both partners (Implication box 7).

Table 19: Implication box 8. Source: Own Elaboration

Recommendations for the “Family Policy” in the Geneva Region
In the Geneva region, the lack of paternity leave and a short maternity leave push many women out of the labour market or force them to reduce their working hours. This situation is even more acute for migrants as they typically do not have the possibility to make use of informal care. A longer maternity leave and the possibility for the father to do his part of the care work by having access to paternity leave would create better conditions for an inclusion of both parents in the labour force.

Another recurring problem is the lack of adapted day care solutions for the parents. Here too, the differences between the Geneva region and the Frankfurt region are striking. One factor which pushed Annisa out of the labour force is the price of day care in Switzerland. The combination of a short maternity leave, the absence of paternity leave and expensive day care solution were detrimental to Annisa’s professional career. The waiting lists and the time spent by the “secondary-mover” in finding places for the children hindered her capacity to seek a position in the labour force. In the Geneva region, it is an oft-repeated claim by the respondents that they could not find day care solutions for small children. Or if they managed to do so, the solution was not satisfactory: either ←315 | 316→too expensive because it is private and without subsidy or because of the lack of available places. For instance, only one child out of every two can get a place in Geneva. This situation corroborates the results of Imhof (2015) and Bonoli and Vuille (2013) that I presented in the contextual chapter. In the Frankfurt region, the respondents complain less about the day care solution for their children. Though most of the parents in the Frankfurt region send their children to a private day care centre, it also means that they can afford to pay for it (as in my empirical cases, the ones without expat-contracts are dual earners). This point is central and corroborates the recommendation of the OECD, to “ensure that work pays for both parents” (2012, 216). For Annisa, her work in the labour force did not pay enough; she made it clear when she told me that: “It was insane to keep two kids at the crèche101 with that salary, because I wouldn’t have anything at the end” (Annisa, 39yrs, married). This is not the case for the respondents in Frankfurt, as they have access to longer parental leaves. In the Geneva region, the female partner has to find an arrangement for day care sixteen weeks after the birth of the child (corresponding to the end of the legal maternity leave). In Germany, the partners can share 14 months i.e. 56 weeks. Thus, they can seek and organise a day care solution and the possibility to use an even more flexible parental leave which can last up to 24 months (Elterngeld+). I argue that the length of the parental leave creates a trickle-down effect on the capacity of the partners to share and organise the division of the tasks (Implication box 8).

Table 20: Implication box 9. Source: Own Elaboration

Recommendations for the Parents
For highly-skilled migrants, a successful coordination between two professional careers and the care work for a child implies the use of a mix of day care arrangements. I did not encounter a single case in which the parents found a full-time place in a kindergarten. Many of them talk of long waiting lists and as they do not know where they will be relocated, they cannot plan ahead by booking a place in advance. Thus, the solution comes with mobilising a mix of different day care arrangements.

That said, the partners in both regions do have the possibility of, and need to develop, a mix of care support. I showed how Lynn and Alex not only use formal care but also informal and non-formal care, and how Julia hires an au pair and sends her son to a private school. On the other hand, I showed how Annisa struggles with the mid-day breaks or how Christophe (8.2.1 Prioritising one Career, 227) has not found a satisfactory day care solution: both “elementary ←316 | 317→families” live in the Geneva region. The partners succeeded in maintaining two professional careers while doing family on the move by effectively making use of different organisations and people for the care support. In the Geneva region, for instance, there are possibilities such as day placement in a family, “home kindergarten”, a nanny or au pair, a kindergarten, or a nursery. It is striking that many of the parents interviewed do not speak about combining[?]; such different forms of day care. In other words, since the parents are unable to find one successful form of day care, they should aim at combining a range of care options simultaneously (Implication box 9).

10.3 Family-Friendly Companies

To understand the capacity of the partners to maintain two professional careers while being on the move is to introduce a third actor: the employing company. The employing company can be supportive in many ways but I will restrict myself only to the ways it can help in the coordination between care work and work in the labour force. In the empirical section, I noted several measures that some companies took to support the partners. I will summarise them here, treating these as examples of good practice in that they allow the partners to coordinate both more easily.

Those who relocate with small children have noted the need to be on waiting lists before a day care solution opens up. This is a common struggle for respondents in either the Frankfurt or in the Geneva region. In many cases, the absence of day care solutions creates a vicious circle for the “secondary-movers”, as they do not find the time to look for employment after a relocation. Whenever possible, the company should inform their employees of a relocation well in advance, encouraging them to look for day care solutions ahead of a relocation to a new place. An easy step one that helped many of the respondents is to provide accurate information regarding the different kinds of available formal, non-formal and informal care, perhaps in the form of an information booklet. More than merely summarising information, these booklets should orient partners towards appropriate and reliable resources, persons, or organisations in advance of a relocation. Another possibility would be to ask the relocation offices to take some steps to finding a day care solution. When the partners take a two day planning trip to visit the different accommodations available, they could also start applying to or visiting some of the day care centres. The sooner they begin the application process the better, as in the Canton of Vaud statistics show that slightly more than 30% of the parents need more than six months to find a day care solution for a small child (Imhof 2015, 37).

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Many interviewees emphasise that the months following relocation are the most stressful because the employee starts a new job, in a new region, with new colleagues, and new tasks. At the same time, the situation is hard for the “secondary-movers”; especially when they perform a “total-move”. In fact, the moment of a relocation is critical for both partners. The employer can help to create the necessary conditions for the partners to develop an adapted care support for their family. The employer should not prevent “primary-movers” from asking for a reduction in their working time for a limited period, typically, just after a relocation; though the timing is (by far) not ideal, as just after a relocation the work load in the labour force is typically high. Yet, the conditions of an early return or a “failed assignment” are potentially exacerbated if the “secondary-mover” has to do all the care work by herself. If she had intended to continue a professional career before relocating but lacks the time to seek employment, she can also decide to return home. In the review of the literature (2 Moving with Skills: A Review of the Literature, 31), I referred to studies that showed how important the satisfaction of the “secondary-mover” is in both supporting the “primary-mover” and triggering early returns. Thus, it is in the interest of the company that “secondary-movers” happily remain for the length of the relocation. The capacity of partners to create a mix of day care support is key to increasing the satisfaction of the “secondary-mover”. Yet, the “secondary-mover” needs to have the time to organise this which implies the support of the “primary-mover”. Of course, no one can guarantee that a “secondary-mover” will find employment or that she will find a “dream-job”. The respondents are aware of that. They underline, however, that their biggest frustration comes from not having the chance to seek it. In other words, they need the support of the “primary-movers” to have a concrete opportunity to seek employment. From this perspective, giving the “primary-movers” the possibility to either (1) reduce working hours, (2) have access to a home-office or (3) organise their time more freely with flexible working hours for a few months after a relocation, could help the partners to seek a day care centre.

The cases of Yuna and Julia, both “divorced mothers” living in a foreign country, show that closely integrating both professional and family life is possible. Julia shares her private and professional calendars with her assistant and her boss. Not everyone wishes to have such a close integration between both, but companies might take the importance of child care to an employee into account. This solution, as I have shown, works for both Yuna and Julia and does not require a diminution of their working hours. Rather, it requires flexible and/or irregular working hours with a greater freedom to work remotely ←318 | 319→some days. Similarly, some companies have agreed to keep an employee on even though s/he was going to move to the other end of the world; the case of Maria working for an Italian company in Japan is striking in this regard. Being open to unconventional ways of integrating professional and family life, making an intensive use of the new technologies of information and communication, can offer (temporary) solutions. However, one has to be careful since such a strategy could be exhausting in the long term and also be a cause of isolation, which “secondary movers” precisely do not want.

Table 21: Implication box 10. Source: Own Elaboration.

Recommendations for the Companies

– Informing the employee about a further relocation as soon as possible.

– Producing information booklets summarising the different forms of care support available in a particular region

– Offering the possibility to reduce or rearrange the working hours in the labour force directly after a relocation.

– Favouring flexible working hours and working from home.

– Being open to unconventional ways of integrating professional and family life.

– Creating and/or supporting the offer of day care services in the region.

– Developing dual career networks.

Last but not least, the company can help create an environment in which both partners can work in the labour force while managing to organise the care work. This comes close to Scott’s idea (2004), which gives “attention to the environment within which the organisation operates” (2004, 5). I would go one step further and argue that a company does not have to adapt or react to a static environment but can, to a certain extent, modify it. When it comes to the possible support for care work, a company can, for instance, invest in the creation of a kindergarten within its walls or nearby. This is the case of Philip-Morris in Lausanne. It is a financially expensive solution, yet it can also be done in collaboration with the local authorities. In the case of this kindergarten, some places are reserved for the children of employees and some are open to others. Another example of companies aiming to change their environment is the creation of programs that favour the dual partner career – like the International Dual Career Network (ICDN) in the Geneva region. This allows the partner who wants to find a position in the labour force after a relocation, to receive support and to be included in professional networks. In sum, as much as the “primary-mover” can be of help, so can the employing companies (Implication box 10).

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10.4 Summary of the Implications for Further Research and the Recommendations for Practice

In this chapter, I gave practical recommendations for a better coordination between professional careers and care work. It is a central problem for all families who want to maintain two professional activities in the labour force while raising children, yet the challenges are exacerbated by mobility and “motility”. As a conclusion for the discussion part, in Table 22 (below), I summarise the implication boxes of chapters 9 and 10.

Table 22: Summarising of the main Implications and Recommendations of the Study. Source: Own Elaboration

Implications for Further Research (Implication boxes 1 and 2)

– Considering the “methodological economism” as a tool:

1. to problematise mobility and depoliticise migration.

2. to bring together the fields of highly-skilled migration studies and expatriation studies.

– Embedding systematically the family relationships in studies on highly-skilled migration and expatriation.

Ideas for Further Research (Implication boxes 3 and 4)

– Focusing on the male “secondary-movers”.

– Focusing on (extreme-)commuters and the development of gendered “family-strategies”.

Recommendations for the Female “Secondary-Movers” (Implication box 5)

– Avoiding the combination of a pregnancy, a resignation, and a relocation as it creates a dearth of care work support.

– Being aware that the division of the tasks after the arrival of the first child creates a path dependency difficult to challenge.

Recommendations for the Male “Primary-Movers” (Implication box 6)

– Negotiating with the employer to be able to better integrate work in the labour force and care work.

– Helping with the care work and with the search for a day care centre.

– Finding flexible professional arrangements to give the “secondary-mover” the necessary time to seek employment.

Recommendations for Parents (Implication box 9)

– Mobilising a mix of different day care arrangements.

Recommendations for the “Family Policy” in the Geneva Region (Implication box 8)

– Creating a paternity leave and developing longer maternity leaves.

Recommendations for both Regions (: Implication box 7)

– Developing a strong childcare provision by increasing the accessibility of the offer of day care centres for pre-school children.

Recommendations for the Companies (Implication box 10)

– Producing information booklets on childcare.

– Valorising flexible working hours, home-office, and unconventional ways of integrating professional and family life.

– Offering the possibility to reduce or rearrange the work time in the labour force directly following a relocation.


99 Kleven, Landais, and Søgaard (2018) focus on Denmark, a country known for having “family friendly policies”, thus, I suggest a similar trend exists, if not such a strong one, in the rest of Europe.

100 La famille vous pouvez la bouger et si elle fonctionne bien (…), c’est ça votre socle (Own Translation).

101 in French in the original interview.