Loneliness in Older Migrants
In the Netherlands, loneliness is more prevalent among Turkish and Moroccan older adults than among older native adults. To investigate possible explanations for this difference, the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam interviewed 176 people born in Morocco and 235 people born in Turkey, all between the ages of 55 and 66 and living in urban areas. Theo G. van Tilburg of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Tineke Fokkema of the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) compared these migrant interviewees to 292 native Dutch interviewees. Using survey questions, they measured interviewees’ loneliness using five dimensions of antecedents: social relationships, socioeconomic position, social participation, mastery (the feeling of being able to control important life decisions) and health. Older migrants - who have more people in the household, more children, more contact with those children, and higher involvement in religious and other organizations - tend to have a stronger social life than native Dutch. However, migrants are generally in lower socioeconomic positions than natives, receive lower income, and are less satisfied with their income. They also tend to suffer poorer health than natives and demonstrate lower mastery. In light of this vulnerability, the authors suggest policy interventions to minimize loneliness and support the mental health of older migrants. Though many interventions assume that the lack of personal relationships is the central cause of loneliness, the authors’ findings highlight the importance considering other factors and exploring additional solutions.