National and transnational belonging among Turkish and Moroccan older migrants in the Netherlands: protective against loneliness? protective against loneliness?

J. Klok, Theo G. van Tilburg, B.A. Suanet, Tineke Fokkema, M. Huisman

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This research investigates how a sense of belonging functions as protective mechanism against loneliness. Inspired by the work of Berry (1980) on acculturation strategies (i.e. integration, assimilation, separation and marginalization), we distinguish migrants who feel a relatively strong or weak sense of belonging to larger society and those who feel a strong or weak belonging to the “own group.” We expect that more national belonging contributes to less loneliness. We add a transnational perspective by arguing that feelings of belonging to the own group can take place in the country of settlement, but can also be transnational, i.e. a feeling of belonging to the country of origin. Transnational belonging can protect against loneliness, as it acknowledges the importance of place attachment. Using data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam on older migrants aged 55–66, we employ latent class analysis and find five national belonging clusters, interpretable in terms of Berry’s acculturation strategies. Further analyses reveal mixed evidence: some aspects of transnational belonging vary with belonging to the own group, but other aspects point to a third dimension of belonging. Regression analysis shows that those marginalized are loneliest and that a transnational sense of belonging contributes to more loneliness. We conclude that Berry’s (1980) typology is useful for interpreting older migrants’ national belonging and that a transnational sense of belonging is apparent among older migrants, but needs to be explored further.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-351
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Acculturation strategies
  • Loneliness
  • Older migrants
  • Place attachment
  • Transnational belonging

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