Tineke Fokkema appointed professor of ‘Ageing, Families and Migration’

Tineke Fokkema has been appointed as the new endowed chair of ‘Ageing, Families and Migration’ at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB) of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). It is the first professorship in the Netherlands to focus on diversity within the population of older migrants, especially in relation to social issues and well-being. Loneliness and the effects of migration on relationships within the family or with relatives left behind in the country of origin will be investigated. This endowed professorship is established by the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

Tineke Fokkema studies a multifaceted group of migrants. The population of older migrants does not consist merely of former guest workers from Morocco and Turkey or persons who came to Europe in the nineteen sixties and seventies from the ex-colonies. Those who arrived as political refugees back then are also older now. In addition, there are senior residents who leave Northwestern Europe, permanently or seasonally, for countries with a more appealing climate and residential environment. These retirees and snowbirds settled mostly in coastal areas of the Mediterranean, but now also increasingly in less popular areas of Europe and even overseas. Some older adults also follow their emigrated children or travel back and forth to take care of their children or grandchildren, or to actually be cared for themselves.

Social well-being and family relationships

Older migrants differ not only in terms of country of origin and country of residence, migration reasons and length of stay in the host country: education, labour history, religion, language skills and the connection to their own ethnic group and culture can vary enormously. This professorship studies the influence of such differences among older migrants on experienced degree and type of loneliness and social isolation, as well as examines how certain factors may counteract social vulnerability. Other topics to be explored include whether migration leads to more or less intergenerational solidarity, and whether parent–child relationship is stronger when migrated families are more culturally detached from the dominant society. The professorship also attempts to unravel whether regular visits to the country of origin contribute to solidarity with relatives who remained behind. Another vital query is the possible consequences of being caught between two cultures for the relationships between children and grandchildren in the country of residence.

About Tineke Fokkema

Prof.dr. Tineke Fokkema graduated in 1990 as an economist at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where in 1996 she also obtained her PhD with a study on the moving behaviour of older adults in the Netherlands. She subsequently worked as a postgraduate researcher at EUR. Since 1997 she has worked as researcher at NIDI in the field of ageing successfully (e.g. determinants of loneliness and coping strategies; family solidarity) and migration (e.g. integration and transnationalism). She is also a member of the research team Families in Context, chaired by Prof Pearl A. Dykstra, and chairperson and editor of the Dutch-language journal of gerontology and geriatrics. Tineke Fokkema also works as coordinator of the IMISCOE Standing Committee ‘Ageing Migrants: demography, welfare and agency’.

More information

Marjolein Kooistra, media relations ESSB, 010 408 2135 | kooistra@essb.eur.nl