A Migration Project in Retrospect: The Case of the Ageing Zero Generation in Emirdağ

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

A Migration Project in Retrospect: The Case of the Ageing Zero Generation in Emirdağ


  • Christiane Timmerman Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Meia Walravens Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Joris Michielsen Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Nevriye Acar Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Lore Van Praag Centre for Migration and Intercultural Studies, University of Antwerp, Belgium


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Abstract:  In the twentieth century, Emirdağ (Turkey) witnessed extensive emigration and is now home to the ‘zero generation’: a group of elderly people who stayed behind when their children moved abroad. We investigate how these elderly people, with at least one child who left the country, evaluate their situation as they have grown older. Using fieldwork observations and in-depth interviews, we found that this group mainly associated the migration of their offspring with loneliness and exclusion from society, due to separation from their children and changes in the traditional family culture. The respondents clearly note a shift in the social position of family elders in Turkish culture, from highly respected to being ignored and looked down upon. While this change in status might be experienced by all elderly inhabitants of the region, feelings of distress were reinforced by an emerging discourse which suggests the migration project is a failed enterprise. The constraints their children experience in the immigrant country have led the zero generation to rely less on them and become more dependent on their own resources. Future research on ageing, migration and transnational care should focus on the different ways in which migration systems evolve, and the long-term effects on social inclusion of all generations.

Keywords:  ageing; elderly; migration; Turkey; zero generation

Published:   30 August 2018


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i3.1508


© Christiane Timmerman, Meia Walravens, Joris Michielsen, Nevriye Acar, Lore Van Praag. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.