Demographic change and migration

Summary and overall aim

The fast-track project on demographic change and migration adresses the interrelationship between the two phenomena. Experts from nine member countries provide a comparative overview of their countries’ recent history of migration, and analyse the relationship between migration and health, employment, pensions and public attitudes.

The report focuses on older migrants since they form the intersection of the two central social processes demographic aging and international migration. Four thematic chapters present cross-sectional and interdisciplinary evidence of the life situation of the older migrant population:

  • Attitudes to immigration and the ageing of societies
    This chapter surveys the empirical literature on attitudes to immigration. The aims are twofold: First, the survey assesses the determinants of attitudes to immigration among the native population in general. Second, it determines to what degree the ageing of societies could lead to increased anti-immigration sentiments among the native population. The next section of the paper shortly discusses some of the methodological and data faced by empirical research in this literature, as well as recent approaches to deal with them. Section three focuses on the stylised facts generated by observational studies on the topic, and summarizes the contributions directly related to ageing. Section four, by contrast, surveys the wider literature on attitudes to immigration to highlight the empirical evidence with respect to some of the competing hypotheses that may contribute to explaining the correlation between aging and anti-immigration attitudes. Finally, section five concludes by summarising results and deriving suggestions for future research.
  • Migrants in the health and social care workforce
    This chapter discusses the role of migrants as health and social care workers within the context of the aging of the health and social care workforce. It starts with a brief description of the relevance of the topic before turning to review the evidence on the nature and scale of health and social care labour migration, including issues of data availability and the drivers for such migration, both in terms of migrants themselves, the qualifications systems and the requirements of the sector within which they are working. The chapter then focuses in on the social care sector, discussing the status and conditions, nature and quality of the work that immigrants perform in caring for older people. Finally, it also briefly touches on migrants as recipients of health and social care services, and the challenges they may face in receiving culturally appropriate services. In addition to a discussion on migrants in the health and social care workforce in the general EU context, the chapter contains a case study of the provision of health care services to older people in Norway.
  • Health and older migration
    This chapter gives a short overview of the existing European literature on the topic of migrant health and ageing published in English with a focus on older migrants. A distinction is made between studies on physical health, mental health and loneliness, as well as mortality. There is some obvious overlap but this differentiation helps to provide insight into the different dimensions of health among older migrants. It goes without saying that this short report can not provide an exhaustive analyses but focuses on some major issues that have been studied. The final section also point to the main research gaps and needs for advancing knowledge about the growing migrant elderly population across Europe.
  • Migrants in the pension system
    The pension rights and level of financial provision available to older migrants are a function of the design of the pension system within which they live, and how that design interacts with their migration history (i.e. the length of time that they have been resident in the country), their socio-legal status (i.e. whether the migrants have the right to work and to pay taxes and receive benefits) and their employment history (i.e. how long they have worked; whether in full or part-time work and whether their employer offered a pension). The EU pension landscape is complex; all member states offer some kind of pension system, but there are large differences between countries. Therefore, commentators have used a range of classifications to try and group countries and clarify the the cross-country differences in pension systems.

Project details

Demographic change and migration is a fast track project.

Project duration

Februrary 2017 – October 2017 (finished)


  • Peter Huber, Austrian Institute of Economic Research, Vienna, Austria
  • Michael Haan, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  • Natalie Iciaszczyk, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  • Wenke Apt, VDI/VDE-IT GmbH, Berlin, Germany
  • Maxie Lutze, VDI/VDE-IT GmbH, Berlin, Germany
  • Karin Sohler, Institut national d’études démographiques (INED), Paris, France
  • Cris Beauchemin, Institut national d’études démographiques (INED), Paris, France
  • Helga A.G. de Valk, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, The Hague & Population Research Center, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
  • Christine Thokle Martens, NOVA, Oslo and Akershus College of Applied Sciences and Centre for Welfare and Labour Research, Norway
  • Eskil Wadensjö, Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Andreu Domingo i Valls, Center for demographic studies (CED), Edifici E2-Campus UAB, Bellaterra, Spain
  • Jane Falkingham, ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
  • Maria Evandrou, ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
  • Saara Hämäläinen, ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
  • Athina Vlachantoni, ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton, United Kingdom