The diversity and welfare of older migrants in Europe
This paper sets the scene and provides a conceptual framework for the articles in this special issue. They present the findings of research on European residents who have reached or are on the threshold of old age and whose current circumstances have been strongly influenced by a migration across an international border. Such ‘older migrants’ are scattered throughout Europe and they have especially diverse characteristics. They include some of the most deprived and socially excluded, and some of the most affluent and accomplished, but all to a greater or lesser extent are disadvantaged through an interaction between social policies and their ‘otherness’ by living in a foreign country. Some claim attention through the severity of their unmet health and welfare needs and poor capacity to access advice and treatment, while the affluent groups are of great interest to social gerontology because of their enterprising, developmental and positive approaches to old age. They include among the most innovative of the latest generation of older people, who pursue new combinations of family responsibilities, leisure pursuits and income generation. The paper proposes that the concept ‘human capital’ summarises variations in preparedness for old age, that is, the resources by which people cope with demands for income, roles, treatment, care and support. A typology of the ‘welfare position’ of international migrants in contemporary Europe is presented.(Accepted January 29 2004)
Key Words: migration; migrant; minority population; human capital; structured disadvantage; positive ageing.
c1 Tony Warnes, Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, Elmfield, Northumberland Road, Sheffield S10 2TU.