Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

The Role of Parent‐Child Relationships and Filial Expectations in Loneliness Among Older Turkish Migrants

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Abstract:  Older first‐generation migrants living in Europe, particularly Turkish migrants, feel relatively lonely, which indicates social exclusion. Social embeddedness within the family, particularly parent‐child relationships, can alleviate loneliness for older migrants, but such relationships can also be ambivalent, which may not prevent loneliness altogether. Earlier research indicates that Turkish migrants in Germany report high quality relationships with their children and high levels of social support exchanges within the family; however, some still report disappointing aspects of the relationship with their children, such as feeling disrespected. To better understand these contradictory findings, this article focuses on various aspects of parent‐child relationships that may explain loneliness among older Turkish migrants in Germany. Moreover, the article considers whether filial expectations can be potential sources of intergenerational conflict that may explain higher levels of loneliness among older Turkish migrants. Using the Generations and Gender Survey with 606 first‐generation Turkish respondents aged 50 and above, findings show that having low satisfying relationships with children and not having adult co‐residing children is associated with more loneliness. Turkish migrants with higher filial expectations feel lonelier when they have good perceived health, and less lonely when they have bad perceived health. These findings indicate that especially healthy older Turkish migrants may have unfulfilled expectations regarding parent‐child relationships, which adds to their loneliness, while parents with bad health experience solidarity, which lowers their loneliness. This shows that both intergenerational solidarity and conflict influence loneliness among older Turkish migrants.

Keywords:  intergenerational conflict; intergenerational solidarity; intergenerational support; international migration; loneliness; older adults; parent‐child relationships


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© Rowan L. F. ten Kate, Başak Bilecen, Nardi Steverink. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.