Expatriate

Expatriate

[v. eks-pey-tree-eyt or, especially Brit., -pa-tree-; adj., n. eks-pey-tree-it, -eyt or, especially Brit., -pa-tree-]

An expatriate (in abbreviated form, expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence. The word comes from the Latin ex (out of) and patria (country, fatherland).

Background

The term is often used in the context of Westerners living in non-Western countries, although it is also used to describe Westerners living in other Western countries, such as Americans living in the United Kingdom, or Britons living in Spain. It may also reasonably refer to Japanese living, for example, in New York City, New York. The key determinant would seem to be cultural/socioeconomic and causation.

In the 19th century, Americans, numbering perhaps in the thousands, were drawn to Europe—especially to Munich and Paris—to study the art of painting. Henry James was a famous expatriate American writer from the 1870s, who adopted England as his home.

Famous American expatriates

American literary notables who lived in Paris from the end of World War I to the beginning of the Great Depression included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein. African-American expatriation to Paris also boomed after World War I, beginning with black American veterans who preferred the subtler racism of Paris to the oppressive racism and segregation in parts of the United States.

In the 1920s African-American writers, artists, and musicians arrived in Paris and popularized jazz in Parisian nightclubs, a time when Montmartre was known as "the Harlem of Paris." Some notable African-American expatriates from the 1920s onward included Josephine Baker, Langston Hughes, and, after World War II, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker.

Another famous group of expatriates was the so-called Beat Generation of American artists living in other countries during the 1950s and 1960s. This group included Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Harold Norse, Gregory Corso and Gary Snyder. Later generation expatriates included 1950s jazz musicians such as Steve Lacy, 1960s rock musician Jim Morrison, and 1970s singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy. Preceding the Beats by several years, and serving to some extent as a point of pilgrimage for many of them was the American expatriate composer and writer Paul Bowles, who spent time in Europe in the 30s before relocating to Tangier, Morocco in 1947, where he lived until his death in 1999.

Many American fashion designers have notably become expatriates in France and Italy to design for existing European design houses or to enhance their own collections. These fashion designers include Marisol Deluna, Tom Ford, Patrick Kelly, and Marc Jacobs.

Colorado-born actor, singer and songwriter Dean Reed never achieved great success in his native United States, but later achieved great popularity in South America, especially Argentina, Chile and Peru. He appeared in several Italian "spaghetti westerns" and finally spent much of his adult life in the German Democratic Republic, but never renounced his USA citizenship. He was an immensely popular celebrity in Eastern Europe until his death in 1986.

American cartoonist Robert Crumb has lived in France since the mid-1990s.

Trends in expatriation

During the later half of the 20th century expatriation was dominated by professionals sent by their employers to foreign subsidiaries or headquarters. Starting at the end of the 20th century globalization created a global market for skilled professionals and leveled the income of skilled professionals relative to cost of living while the income differences of the unskilled remained large. Cost of intercontinental travel had become sufficiently low, such that employers not finding the skill in a local market could effectively turn to recruitment on a global scale.

This has created a different type of expatriate where commuter and short-term assignments are becoming the norm, and are gradually replacing the traditional long term. Private motivation is becoming more relevant than company assignment. Families might often stay behind when work opportunities amount to months instead of years. The cultural impact of this trend is more significant. Traditional corporate expatriates did not integrate and commonly only associated with the elite of the country they were living in. Modern expatriates form a global middle class with shared work experiences in multi-national corporation and working and living the global financial and economical centers. Integration is incomplete but strong cultural influences are transmitted. Middle class expatriates contain many re-migrants from emigration movements one or two generations earlier.

In Dubai the population is predominantly expatriates, from countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines, with only 3% of the population made up of Western expatriates.

Business handling of expatriate employees

In dealing with expatriates, an international company reckons the value of them and has experienced staff to deal with them, and often has a company-wide policy and coaching system that includes spouses at an earlier stage in the decision-making process, giving spouses an official voice. Not many companies provide any compensation for loss of income of spouses. They often do provide benefits and assistance. The level of support differs, ranging from offering a job-hunting course for spouses at the new location to full service partner support structures, run by volunteering spouses supported by the organization. An example of an expatriate led project can be found in the Gracia Arts Project of Barcelona.

Risks in using expatriates

Although patterns of expatriation are changing to become shorter-term and more flexible, the role of those working predominantly outside their home country remains important but sometimes problematic to global organizations. Expatriate staff typically cost substantially more than home country-based colleagues, it takes 2-3 times longer for staff to adapt to an international assignment than a domestic appointment, up to 20% of expatriates under-perform and some 40% of these return to their home country early. In addition, expatriate staff can do far greater damage to organizational reputation and operation than their domestic counterparts and some 50% leave their employers within 18 months of return from an assignment. Some companies attempt to assist their expatriates through internal human resources or outside service providers at each stage of the expatriate cycle (selection, training, adjustment, performance management, compensation and repatriation), in an attempt to mitigate these risks.

Expatriates and communication technology

Modern communication technologies such as internet radio, phone and television globalize communication by allowing expatriates around the world to easily connect with their home country and culture instantaneously. This has the effect of reducing the separation anxiety associated with the expatriation process. Companies have emerged to facilitate this virtual connection to the home country.

See also

References

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