A place to grow old? The risks and rewards of retirement migration

An increasing number of people migrate from the Netherlands to a foreign country after their retirement. While retirement migrants typically move in search of a better climate and a less hectic life environment, migration in the later stages of life also poses challenges. There have been prior studies of retirement migration but the number of studies is small, typically qualitative, and mostly descriptive. Our project is innovative in three ways. First, the project raises new questions about the potential problems that retirement migrants may experience. Specifically, we focus on two types of ‘risk’: problems with family ties, social networks and community involvement, and problems with health, wellbeing and lifestyles. Second, our project is innovative in a methodological sense. It is based on a well-defined nationally representative sample frame and a large-scale survey among retirement migrants in a large number of destinations. Moreover, it uses a matched comparison group of pensioners who did not migrate and adds (smaller) samples of return migrants. Third, our project is theoretically innovative. Using theories from (social) gerontology, social network research, and migration studies, we develop new hypotheses about why and under what conditions retirement migrants are successful while others are not and we test these explanations using the newly collected survey data.

This project is funded by NWO-MaGw (grant number 406.18.SW.022).

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