Living Arrangements of Elderly Persons from Migrant Populations in Belgium

Edith Lodewijckx, Population and Family Study Centre, Brussels

The Belgian population is ageing and so are the migrant populations in this country. In general, the demand for care from elderly persons belonging to migrant populations hardly differs from that of native elderly, but the type of expected care certainly does. Focus group research revealed that elderly persons originating from Turkey or Morocco and, to a lesser extent, Southern European countries hope that their children (with whom they often cohabit) and relatives will care for them. As far as they are concerned, living in an institution is no option at all or, at best, a very final resort; home care is often not considered affordable. Using the national register, we investigate if this expectation pattern is reflected by the household composition of elderly persons from migrant populations. The composition of the household differs appreciably according to civil status, age, gender and ethnic origin. The composition of households of migrants from Turkey, Morocco and Southern Europe suggests that care for the elderly is currently provided to a large extent by children and relatives. The question is whether children will remain willing and able to offer such care. Non-native elderly interviewed in the focus groups already express their doubts on this matter. This, in combination with the predicted increase of elderly persons from migrant populations, will present Belgian policy with a challenge in the near future with regard to the organisation of apt social services for elderly persons from migrant populations.

Presented in Poster Session 1