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By analyzing the migration behavior and transnational residential strategies of first-generation, aging migrants from a particular Moroccan sending region, this study contributes to a conceptual critique of migration theories that identify the household as the most relevant decisionmaking unit. It highlights the role of intra-household power inequalities and conflicts in migration decisionmaking as well as the effects of migration decisions for intra-household power relations. Many labor migrants who left Morocco to work in Europe in the 1960s and 1970s did not realize their wish to return but instead ended up reunifying their families at the destination. An increasing proportion adopts a pendulum migration strategy to reconcile their own wish to retain strong ties with Morocco with the reluctance of children and spouses to return. Migrants who unilaterally decided not to reunify their families usually return after their active working life. However, this unilateral decision also blocks legal entry into Europe for their children, which has generated considerable intergenerational tensions.

More information


Journal article


Population and Development Review

Publication Date



36 (3)


541 - 561

Total pages