RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


269 Later-life (im)mobilities: unpacking the ageing-migration nexus (1): Diversity, inequality and wellbeing
Affiliation Population Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Russell King (University of Sussex, UK)
Dora Sampaio (University of Sussex, UK)
Katie Walsh (University of Sussex, UK)
Chair(s) Dora Sampaio (University of Sussex, UK)
Timetable Friday 02 September 2016, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Session abstract The ageing-migration nexus tended to have been overlooked both in geographical debate and in the interdisciplinary field of migration studies, where the assumption has prevailed that most migrants are younger working-age adults. Later-life (im)mobilities are though unarguably a deeply geographical phenomenon, with place playing a central role in shaping older people’s lives (Andrews and Phillips, 2005). Following from Warnes’ (1990) earlier challenge for geographers to move from research centred on the nature of place to focus on older people in place, this session seeks to bring together three conceptual dimensions – place, older people and geographical (im)mobilities – considering multiple spatial and temporal perspectives. Drawing upon a variety of theoretical and empirical contributions, the session aims to discuss the diversity of later-life (im)mobilities, questioning and problematising migratory trajectories that do not always conform to traditional assumptions of ‘old age’. Including a diverse set of case-studies, research methodologies and disciplinary approaches, it highlights the intersectionality in later-life migration, emphasising the role played by factors such as age, gender, race/ethnicity or social class. By examining a wide array of experiences of migration in later-life – later-life return migration, international retirement migration, older family-joining migrants, older economic migrants, ageing-in-place migrants, or older people ‘left behind’ by migration – this session endeavours to bring into a common framework different types of later-life (im)mobilities. In doing so, we show the dangers of building a one-size-fits-all approach to later-life migration, we put into perspective the vulnerability trope traditionally associated with old age (King et al., forthcoming), and we highlight how migrants, but also non-migrants, see their ageing experiences shaped by cultures of migration.
Linked Sessions Later-life (im)mobilities: unpacking the ageing-migration nexus (2): Ageing experiences, home practices and mobility choices
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Mobility and inequality among older migrants: the ambivalence of ageing in and out of place
Alistair Hunter (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
In many European countries older foreign-born individuals constitute a very heterogeneous population, occupying a wide range of positions across several axes of differentiation such as wealth, health, human capital, housing, legal status, and social capital. Such heterogeneity has clear implications from an equalities perspective. Drawing on Nancy Fraser's conceptualisation of equality as resources, recognition and representation, this paper investigates inequalities of ageing among migrants in France. Following an overview of statistics relating to older migrants in France, the paper turns to a specific sub-population of older people in France experiencing particular inequalities, namely older men of North and West African origin residing in migrant worker hostels. The inequalities they experience lead to questions about the legitimacy of their continued presence and 'ageing in place' in France, both in the form of self-interrogations by the men themselves and in the form of government legislation aiming to financially incentivise their return to countries of origin. However, unwilling neither to definitively return to their country of origin nor to definitively settle in France, most hostel residents prefer a strategy of bi-residence, traveling back-and-forth and spending significant periods of time in each country. The final section of the paper turns to the relationship between geographical mobility and inequality in later life. The assumption in the literature to date is that later life mobility is the preserve of those who are financially well-off and in good health. Furthermore, mobility is viewed as a resource for active ageing and wellbeing. However, for hostel residents this relationship is more ambivalent. While for some residents, back-and-forth mobility is actively chosen in order to achieve a 'best of both worlds' scenario, for others mobility is experienced as enforced and constrained.
Inequalities in later life: the confluence of (im)mobilities and life satisfaction
Nissa Finney (University of St. Andrews / ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE), UK)
Alan Marshall (University of St Andrews, UK)
Migration research has a longstanding concern with inequalities, in how (im)mobility shapes, and is shaped by, spatial and social disparities. Economic perspectives on the potential gains of migration (e.g. Fielding 1992) have more recently been joined by studies of the role of migration in health, wellbeing and happiness (Bartram 2013). This paper contributes to this literature by examining whether, among older adults, those who migrate (are residentially mobile) experience an increase life satisfaction and satisfaction with their neighbourhood. The paper examines how life and neighbourhood satisfaction are patterned by wealth, health and family circumstances and how variation in satisfaction of the mobile compares to that of the immobile. It is hypothesised that migration will be associated with increases in satisfaction when it coincides with contexts of later life 'choice' (for example, financial means, good health, partnership) compared to contexts of later life 'constraint' (for example, financial precarity, poor health, death of a spouse). This analysis contributes to understandings of the selectivity of migration in later life and the differential impacts of later life (im)mobility which contribute to spatial and social inequalities of ageing. The paper uses the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a survey of 11,391 adults over 50 years of age. The paper makes use of sets of questions on neighbourhood perception (from Waves 1 and 3) and life satisfaction (Waves 1-6) which allow change in neighbourhood and life satisfaction to be identified (over a 2 and 12 year period respectively) and associated with (im)mobility. Key attributes of interest are wealth, health and partnership and where sample sizes allow results are also examined by age/cohort and ethnicity. This paper takes a geographical perspective but also draws on the authors' research in interdisciplinary contexts in the fRaill project concerned with frailty, resilience and inequalities in later life (Marshall; http://www.micra.manchester.ac.uk/research/projects-and-groups/frraill//) and the ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity concerned with inequalities experienced by migrants and minorities (Finney; www.ethnicity.ac.uk).
Later-life (im)mobilities: longitudinal evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP)
Eralba Cela (Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy)
Giulia Bettin (Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy)
Although migration literature has explored the determinants of migrants' intention to return to the home country, older people have been largely overlooked by empirical research. The traditional view of labour migrants as ageless, strong, healthy and expected to retire in their home country is being challenged by the ageing process of the migrant population as a whole: first generation migrants, of course, but also their offspring, who are approaching retirement age as well. Although retirement might represent an appropriate moment to fulfill the longing to spend the old age in the home country, recent studies, mostly qualitative in nature, show that the presence of children and grandchildren in Europe together with the high quality of western social and health care services might prevent older migrants from a definitive return. At the same time, however, the presence of relatives and social networks in the home country coupled with lower costs of living and usually warmer climate may act as pull factors for longer periods of permanence back home. The intersection of ageing and migration generates a wide taxonomy of types, from the most well-off and active individuals to those who are deprived, marginalised and reliant on survival tactics. Thus far, however, very little is known about the ageing population with migration background. Building on the literature related to return migration, wellbeing and life-course, we investigate quantitatively the determinants of return intentions in later life through the construction of different indicators related to objective and subjective wellbeing of an ageing migrant population in Germany, one of the first European countries to apply the guest workers scheme in the early 50s. We draw on longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP), over the period 1984-2012 to address: i) the diverse patterns of later-life (im)mobilities of different generations of ageing migrants from different countries; ii) the main factors influencing such patterns.
Gender, Lifestyle Migration and Active Aging in Cuenca, Ecuador
Matthew Hayes (St. Thomas University, Canada)
The paper analyses the motivations and discourses of a group of 18 North American women who have relocated to Cuenca, Ecuador—most in third age. These women moved on their own, and have a sense of their relocation as an adventure, one nonetheless triggered by economic insecurity in the United States and Canada. Many research participants noted that their retirement savings were insufficient due to time spent outside the labour market raising children, divorce, underemployment or other factors related to the generation now entering retirement. Against a social backdrop that increasingly accords status and symbolic power in third age with travel and activity, lifestyle migration to locations in the global South enable some groups to recoup or maintain middle class social positions and habits. Single women who relocate on their own are a particularly interesting group to explore these emerging forms of lifestyle arbitrage, whereby individuals take advantage of structural asymmetries in a colonial, extractivist and unequal global division of labour. As Croucher (2014) argues, women who migrate in third age benefit from significant advantages and privilege in Latin America. However, in their home country, they also faced significant disadvantages, declining possibilities and a strong desire to break with established aging patterns, a motivation which Gambold (2015) refers to as ‘fear of the known’. This paper builds on these contributions within the field of lifestyle migration, and pulls out narratives that demonstrate awareness of structurally inherited advantages and disadvantages. Research participants often have an essentializing discourse about respect for elders in Ecuador that may reflect their own privilege as racialized white, relatively wealthy migrants, even as they experiment with new forms of living and travelling on their own in third age.