Temporariness and Post-Migration Adaptation of Older Migrants: The Case of Chinese Grandparenting Migrants in Singapore

Tuen Yi CHIU*, Elaine Lynn-Ee HO

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Post-migration adaptation has been a major theme in migration studies. Yet extant research has typically focused on immigrants who will presumably settle in the host society and overlooked temporary migrants, especially those who move in later life. While the former are expected to assimilate into the host society over time, temporary migrants spend limited and intermittent periods of time in the host society only. The normative frameworks of migrant adaptation are, therefore, inadequate for analyzing the experience of older temporary migrants. Drawing on ethnographic data collected from 41 Chinese grandparenting migrants in Singapore, this article uses temporariness as a central analytic lens to examine their post-migration adaption experience, including their attitudes toward their temporary presence in the host country, the constraints they encountered as temporary migrants, and the strategies they used to cope with such experiences. We introduce the concepts of “objective temporariness” and “subjective temporariness” to illustrate how the duration of stay allowed by the host state and migrants’ feelings toward their temporary presence, respectively, affect migrants’ intentions and ability to adapt to the new environment. Conceptualizing temporariness as a continuum, we show how diverse forms of temporariness (transient versus extended) differentially shaped the adaptation patterns of short-term stayers (staying one to three months each time) and long-term stayers (staying at least a year or more). Our findings underscore the importance of analyzing the temporal alongside the spatial when examining temporariness as a condition experienced by older temporary migrants and as a tool used by nation-states to regulate migrant populations.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Migration Review
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Singapore, (grant number MOET2017-T2-019) and LU Research Seed Fund 102373.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • migrant adaptation
  • temporary migration
  • transnational grandparenting


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