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Loneliness in Elderly Turkish Immigrants in Germany

A Comparison on the Loneliness Scale with Individuals without Immigrant Backgrounds

Content and Objective

Demographic change is making the embeddedness of elderly people a crucial social issue. Concerns are often expressed that elderly people are at risk of loneliness, especially in urban areas, due to a high degree of anonymity and isolation. Due to the growing numbers of this section of the population, this issue is gaining increased importance, not only with regard to intergenerational relationships or existing networks (friends and family). It is in fact relevant whether such an individual feels embedded or lonely. This can be measured on the so-called Loneliness Scale (the 6-item version according to De Jong-Gierveld), which was surveyed as part of the Generations and Gender Survey (GGS).

This issue is of special interest for immigrants in Germany since many of them will spend their remaining years in Germany far from their place of origin. It is generally claimed that elderly immigrants are more lonesome on average than persons without immigrant backgrounds. Even if many immigrants have spent most of their lives in Germany they must deal with differences in the culture, social norms, with socio-economic disadvantages and their relationship to their homeland and their associated concerns about their relatives living there, as well as with the question of whether or not they should return. These aspects are frequently cited as reasons for greater feelings of loneliness.

The project's objective is to understand and explain possible differences in the subjectively assessed loneliness of elderly Turks in Germany, who make up the largest and most significant group of foreign nationals, to persons without immigrant backgrounds of the same age group. Persons between the ages of 50 and 79 years are the subjects. The opening question is therefore: Are elderly Turks lonelier than Germans of the same age group and what are the explanatory factors for this?

The evaluation uses GGS data from the first waves of the primary and the follow-up survey of Turkish nationals. The dependent variable is the De Jong-Gierveld 6-item Loneliness Scale. The differences between Turks and Germans are examined using analytical regression methods.


Fokkema, Tineke; Naderi, Robert (2013): Differences in Late-Life Loneliness. A Comparison between Turkish and Native-Born Older Adults in Germany. In: European Journal of Ageing 10,4: 289-300 [DOI: 10.1007/s10433-013-0267-7]

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