Understanding loneliness among older migrants

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In Europe, the proportion of older adults in the population is increasing, which includes more older adults with a migration background. Older migrants, in particular Moroccan and Turkish migrants, feel more lonely compared to those without a migration background. Loneliness emerges when someone’s social relationships are not as desired, and desires can differ across cultures. This makes it important to consider which aspects of social ties can explain loneliness among older migrants. The results of the dissertation confirm a paradox: older migrants feel more lonely compared to those without a migration background, even if their social ties are not so different. A first explanation for this is that migrant-specific aspects can add to loneliness, such as migratory loss. Most migrants were found to experience migratory loss. Migrants who are more acculturated have less migratory loss, and social ties in the country of immigration do not influence the extent to which older migrants have migratory loss. A second explanation is that not all aspects of social ties are experienced as meaningful. These are social participation in the country of immigration, especially for migrant men. Family ties can also be disappointing or coupled with high expectations, especially for migrant women. Last, friendship ties, especially with a shared migration background, are an important protective factor against loneliness. The findings show that interventions against loneliness should focus on preferences for social participation and recognizing loneliness among older migrants who are not socially isolated.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Steverink, Nardi, Supervisor
  • Bilecen, Basak, Co-supervisor
Award date22-May-2023
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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