Older ethnic minorities and migrants are also part of the EU’s ageing population

Brussels 16 December 2011

International Migrants’ Day, 18 December

Older ethnic minorities and migrants are also part of the EU’s ageing population


Frequently the ‘migrant’ factor is forgotten in discussions on Europe’s ageing population. But older migrants and ethnic minorities face specific challenges in Europe in accessing care, the labour market, and securing their livelihoods. Targeted measures are needed to address these shortcomings, say the European Network Against Racism and AGE Platform Europe ahead of International Migrants’ Day on 18 December.

Older migrants share the same difficulties that any ageing person may encounter in access to healthcare and long term care, but with additional factors, including premature ageing due to harsh working and housing conditions, as well as a loss of command of their host country language, particularly if they suffer from dementia/Alzheimer. In addition, long term care facilities are often not adapted to the cultural, religious or linguistic needs of older migrants and ethnic minorities.

They face the same problems of access and opportunity in the labour market as any older worker, but these are compounded by discrimination, lack of access to training and lifelong learning, as well as non-recognition of qualifications obtained in their home country. Retired migrants often live in sub-standard conditions and tend to lack pension contributions because of incomplete employment records.

Europe’s ageing population now includes significant numbers of ethnic minority people and migrants, which will continue to grow with current demographic trends and continuing migration to Europe. For instance, in the United Kingdom one in three ethnic minority people will be aged over 50 by 2028. Yet governments across Europe continue to consider migration as a temporary phenomenon and do not take migrants’ needs seriously in terms of addressing adequate pension entitlements, healthcare, housing, etc.

Chibo Onyeji, ENAR Chair, said: “Migrants and ethnic minorities in Europe have contributed to European society as workers and deserve consideration as they grow older. But so far, little attention has been paid to thinking about how their specific needs can be met. Decision makers and public authorities need to acknowledge this reality and deal with it so that older migrants can age in dignity.”

Anne-Sophie Parent, AGE Secretary General, added that: “It is so important today, in a time of crisis when welfare schemes are at risk, everyone's pensions are being cut and older people become even more vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion, that measures are taken so that all people, including migrants and ethnic minorities, can age in dignity. Solidarity between generations and among our communities needs to be actively promoted so that an age-friendly EU can be created for the benefit of all in society.”

For more details on the challenges faced by older ethnic minorities and migrants, see ENAR and AGE’s joint paper.



For further information, contact:

Georgina Siklossy, Communication and Press Officer, ENAR

Tel: +32 (0)2 229 35 70 - Mobile: +32 (0)473 49 05 31 - E-mail: georgina@enar-eu.org - Website: www.enar-eu.org

Anne Mélard, Information and Communication Officer, AGE Platform Europe

Tel: +32 (0)2 280 14 70 - E-mail: anne.melard@age-platform.eu - Website: www.age-platform.eu


Press release in pdf format

Communiqué de presse en français (suivra)

Friday 16 December 2011
This website is developed with the financial support of an operating grant of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission. The contents of the articles are the sole responsibility of AGE Platform Europe and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.