Care, Inequality and Wellbeing in Transnational Families in Europe: a comparative, intergenerational study in Spain, France, Sweden & UK

Project summary

This innovative comparative research project will investigate the relationships between care, inequalities & wellbeing among different generations of transnational families in the UK, Spain, France & Sweden. The COVID-19 crisis has brought into stark relief the care deficits many European countries are confronting as ageing societies, with low-paid women migrants often filling gaps in formal care provision, while their own caring responsibilities for kin are often overlooked. Demographic shifts due to population ageing & increased international migration are leading to major changes in the provision of care, social protection & intergenerational responsibilities. These transformations may exacerbate existing inequalities facing migrant families with care needs.

The project will compare migrant carers’ and transnational families’ experiences within four partner countries with contrasting welfare models, migration regimes & post-colonial legacies. Using a multi-sited family-focused ethnographic & participatory action research methodology, we will work with partner organisations to train migrant peer researchers & support them to undertake research with families, building trust & capacity within communities. We will select a diverse sample of 100 transnational families with care needs (25 in each country) of different ethnicities & varying legal status from two contrasting regions in each country to compare experiences at different urban and rural scales, as well as between countries. We will engage with 3 or 4 different generations, including family members living in countries of origin/other settlement countries. We will select 20-30 case study families for in-depth ethnographic research. We aim to match the sample with family members living in more than one partner country to explore onward migration & resource flows & compare differing entitlements to social protection.

The study will provide unique insights into how family care practices are negotiated between & within different generations of transnational families in Europe, while also considering their family ties in countries of origin. This timely project will capture the health, economic, social & emotional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on transnational families as the crisis unfolds, including changing intergenerational caring responsibilities & mobility strategies. It will explore the impacts of care on younger, middle & older generations’ wellbeing & opportunities & how social reproductive & productive work are shaped by intersecting inequalities of gender, age & generation, disability, race, ethnicity/cultural background & socio-economic & legal status. It will include a specific focus on young caregiving & how this affects children’s wellbeing, education & opportunities. This interdisicplinary project will also explore how language barriers may perpetuate inequalities facing transnational carers & how younger generations may provide ‘language-brokering’ & help older family members to navigate bureaucratic legal & administrative systems to claim their rights.

The project will achieve significant societal impacts by providing a valuable evidence-base to inform policy in improving the wellbeing & equality of transnational families in Europe. It will embed the learning in practice through the co-production of culturally appropriate tools & training materials that support young & adult carers & transnational families. The findings & outputs will be disseminated through community screenings, regional stakeholder workshops, key academic & practitioner conferences & an international interdisciplinary Symposium. The project will produce 14 high impact journal articles in the fields of migration studies, social & emotional geographies, childhood & youth studies, family sociology, sociolinguistics & migrant language education & a co-edited volume. The dataset will be archived for future researchers’ use.

Project details

CAREWELL participated in the fourth joint call on ‘Equality and Wellbeing across Generations’.

Project duration and budget

Project duration: 36 months
Total costs: €1,138,345.14


  • University of Reading, United Kingdom.
    Coordinator: Prof Ruth Evans
    Dr Tony Capstick
    Dr Sally Lloyd-Evans
    Dr Grady Walker
  • University of Leeds, United Kingdom.
    Dr Rosa Mas Giralt
    Dr James Simpson
  • University of A Coruña, Spain.
    Prof Laura Oso Casas
    Dr Laura Suárez-Grimalt
    Dr Paloma Moré
  • University of Aix Marseille, France.
    Prof Virginie Baby Collin
    Dr Polina Palash
  • Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity, and Welfare (MIM), Malmö University, Sweden.
    Dr Brigitte Suter
    Dr Ingrid Jerve Ramsøy
  • CNRS, France.
    Dr Assaf Dahdah