Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Twice as many helpers: Unpacking the connection between marriage migration and older labour immigrants’ access to family support

Anika Liversage


In research on ethnic minority families, the topics of marriage migration and filial support to the elderly have generally been studied separately. This article argues that the two phenomena are linked, as older immigrants are better able to receive family support when children-in-law arrive as marriage migrants, leaving behind their own parents in their country of origin. On the basis of interviews with 39 first-generation immigrants from Turkey who are aging in Denmark, the study argues that the substantial family support which these older immigrants receive depends on the ability of their children and children-in-law to divide such support between them. In the host country context in which women generally work, however, the failing health of older immigrants may lead to considerable family strain. To honour filial obligations, some families make use of an option to seek to have daughters or daughters-in-law employed by the authorities to provide family support.


marriage migration; Turkish immigrants; filial obligations; domestic labour; intergenerational support

Full Text:



Aykan, H. and Wolf, D. A. (2002). “Traditionality, modernity, and household composition: parent–child coresidence in contemporary Turkey”. Research on Aging, 22 (4): 395−421.

Aytac, I. A. (1998). “Intergenerational living arrangements in Turkey”. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 13 (3): 241−264.

Basch, L., Glick Schiller, N. and Blanc Szanton, C. (1994). Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and the Deterritorialized Nation-state. Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach.

Bastug, S. (2002). “Household and family in contemporary Turkey: a historical perspective: Sharon Bastug”. In: R. Liljeström and E. Özdalga (eds.) Autonomy and Dependence in the Family (pp. 99−116). Istanbul: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul.

Beck-Gernsheim, E. (2007). “Transnational lives, transnational marriages: a review of the evidence from migrant communities in Europe”. Global Networks, 7 (3): 271−288.

Beck-Gernsheim, E. (2011). “The marriage route to migration: of border artistes, transnational matchmaking and imported spouses”. Nordic Journal of Migration Research, 1 (2): 69−79.

Bernhardt, E., Goldscheider, C., Goldscheider, F. and Bjerén, G. (2007). Immigration, Gender, and Family Transitions to Adulthood in Sweden. New York: University Press of America.

Bertaux, D. (2003). The usefulness of life stories for a realist and meaningful sociology. In: R. Humphrey, R. Miller and E. Zdravomyslova (eds.) Biographical Research in Eastern Europe: Altered Lives and Broken Biographies (pp. 39−51). Hampshire: Ashgate.

Bryceson, D. F. and Vuorela, U. (2002). “Transnational families in the twenty-first century”. In: D. Bryceson and U. Vuorela (eds.) The Transnational Family: New European Frontiers and Global Networks (pp. 2−30). Oxford: Berg Publishers.

Burr, J. A. and Mutchler, J. E. (1999). “Race and ethnic variation in norms of filial responsibility among older persons”. Journal of Marriage and Family, 61 (3): 674−687.

Carnein, M. and Baykara-Krumme, H. (2013). “Einstellungen zur familialen Solidarität im Alter: Eine vergleichende Analyse mit türkischen Migranten und Deutschen”. Zeitschrift für Familienforschung – Journal of

Family Research, 25: 29−52.

Carol, S., Ersanilli, E. and Wagner, M. (2014). “Spousal choice among the children of Turkish and Moroccan immigrants in six European countries: Transnational spouse or co-ethnic migrant?”. International Migration Review, 48 (2): 387−414.

Celikaksoy Mortensen, E. A. (2006). Marriage Behaviour and Labour Market Integration: The Case of the Children of Guest Worker Immigrants in Denmark. Aarhus: Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business.

Charsley, K. (2012). Transnational Marriage: New Perspectives from Europe and Beyond. London: Routledge.

Colmorten, E., Hansen, E. B., Pedersen, S., Platz, M. and Rønnow, B. (2003). Den ældre har brug for hjælp. Hvem bør træde til? Copenhagen: AKF – Amternes og Kommunernes Forskningsinstitut.

Copenhagen Municipality (2015). Integrationspolitik 2015–18 – social mobilitet og sammenhængskraft. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Municipality.

de Valk, H. A. G. and Schans, D. (2008). “‘They ought to do this for their parents’: perceptions of filial obligations among immigrant and Dutch older people”. Ageing and Society, 28, 49−66.

Denktas, S. (2011). Health and Health Care Use of Elderly Immigrants in the Netherlands: A Comparative Study. Amsterdam: PhD Thesis, Erasmus University.

Eurostat (2015). Http://,_2004%E2%80%9314_(%25)_YB16.png (retrieved 26 May 2016).

Halman, L., Inglehart, R., Diez-Medrano, J., Luijkx, R., Morena, A. and Basanez, M. (2008). Changing Values and Beliefs in 85 Countries: Trends from the Values Surveys from 1981 to 2004. Leiden: Brill Publishers.

Hansen, E. B. and Siganos, G. (2009). Ældre danskeres og indvandreres brug af pleje- og omsorgsydelser. Copenhagen: Anvendt Kommunal Forskning.

Imamoglu, E. O. and Imamoglu, V. (1992). “Life situations and attitudes of the Turkish elderly towards institutional living within a cross-cultural perpective”. Journal of Gerontology – Psychological Sciences, 47 (2): 102−108.

Jakobsen, V. and Deding, M. (2006). Indvandreres arbejdsliv og familieliv. Copenhagen: Socialforskningsinstituttet.

Kagitcibasi, C. (1982). “Old-age security value of children: cross-national socio-economic evidence”. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 13 (2): 29−42.

Kagitcibasi, C. (2005). “Value of children and family change: a three-decade portrait from Turkey”. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 54 (3): 317−337.

Kandiyoti, D. (1988). “Bargaining with patriarchy”. Gender and Society, 2 (3): 274−290.

Keefer, J., Rosenthal, C. and Béland, F. (2000). “The impact of ethnicity on helping older relatives: findings from a sample of employed Canadians”. Canadian Journal on Aging, 19 (3): 317−342.

Lan, P.-C. (2002). “Subcontracting filial piety: elder care in ethnic Chinese immigrant families in California”. Journal of Family Issues, 23 (7): 812−835.

Lievens, J. (1999). “Family-forming migration from Turkey and Morocco to Belgium: the demand for marriage partners from the countries of origin”. International Migration Review, 33 (3): 717−744.

Lorenz-Meyer, D. and Grotheer, A. (2000). “Reinventing the generational contract: anticipated care-giving responsibilities of younger Germans and Turkish migrants”. In: S. Arber and C. Attias-Donfut (eds.) The Myth of Generational Conflict: The Family and Stat in Ageing Societies (pp. 190−208). London: Routledge.

Milewski, N. and Hamel, C. (2010). “Union formation and partner choice in a transnational context: the case of descendants of Turkish immigrants in France”. International Migration Review, 44 (3): 615−658.

Naldemirci, Ö. (2013). Caring (in) Diaspora: Aging and Caring Experiences of Older Turkish Migrants in a Swedish Context. Gothenburg: PhD Thesis; University of Gothenburg.

Nauck, B. and Klaus, D. (2005). “Families in Turkey”. In: B. N. Adams and J. Trost (eds.), Handbook of World Families (pp. 364−388). London: Sage Publications.

Schans, D. (2007). Ethnic Diversity in Intergenerational Solidarity. PhD thesis. Utrecth: Utrecht University.

Schans, D. and Komter, A. (2010). “Ethnic differences in intergenerational solidarity in the Netherlands”. Journal of Aging Studies, 24 (3): 194−203.

Van Kerckem, K., Van der Bracht, K., Stevens, P. A. J. and Van de Putte, B. (2013). “Transnational marriages on the decline: explaining changing trends in partner choice among Turkish Belgians”. International Migration Review, 47 (4): 1006−1038.

World Values Survey (2015). WVS Database. Data from 2010–2014. Http:// (retrieved 10 July 2015).

Yavuz, S. (2014). Future living arrangement preferences of middle-aged individuals in Turkey. European Population Conference. Session 18 – Intergenerational relations: norms and behaviour 25–28 June 2014, Budapest, Hungary.

Yazici, B. (2012). “The return to the family: welfare, state and politics of the family in Turkey”. Anthropological Quarterly, 85 (1): 103−140.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Transnational Press London

Copyright © 2003-2018 Migration Letters / Transnational Press London | All rights reserved | Contact Us