Badante or Bride? Patterns of Female Migration in Italy, Japan, Korea, and Spain

Margarita Estévez-Abe, Tiziana Caponio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article investigates the intersection of care and migration regimes by comparing four carefully matched familialist countries—Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Spain. These four countries, while sharing a similar familialist culture and welfare regime, responded to the problem of eldercare deficits differently in the 1990s and the 2000s. Italy and Spain developed a ‘migrant-in-the-family model,’ relying heavily on informal eldercare provided by migrant workers whom Italians colloquially call badante. Korea and Japan, by contrast, relied more on marriage migrants, with Korea developing its own variant of the migrant-in-the-family model where the migrant is typically the daughter-in-law. In Japan, some marriage migrants became care workers in the formal eldercare sector. By tracing the historical trajectories of female migration to these four countries, the article identifies a recursive relationship between migration regimes and care regimes. Initial differences in migration regimes shaped the female migratory pathways in specific ways, which, in turn, affected the development of distinctive eldercare regimes. Once these new care regimes emerged, however, they influenced the migration regime in the next cycle. The article contributes to the literatures on the intersection of care and migration regimes by untangling the reciprocal feedback processes between these two systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1194
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Migration Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • care and domestic workers
  • care regimes
  • migrant brides
  • migration regimes
  • southern europe-south east asia comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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