The prevalence of loneliness among Turkish- and Moroccan-Dutch older adults is higher than among Dutch older adults of non-migrant origin. Two explanations may account for this difference. (1) The meaning of the concept may differ, or there is differential item functioning. This might result in scores that not only differ in intensity but also in meaning across groups. (2) The position of older migrants is much more vulnerable than of non-migrant older people. Data from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam were used to examine support for both explanations. Feelings of loneliness are explored among 176 people born in Morocco and 235 people born in Turkey, aged 55–66 years, and living in urban areas. They migrated on average 35 years ago to the Netherlands. They are compared with a matched sample of 292 older people of Dutch origin. The psychometric properties of the loneliness scale are satisfying, although there is some differential item functioning. Older migrants have more frequent social contacts, but are at a disadvantage in other domains. Taking into account differences in social participation, satisfaction with their income, mastery and depressive symptoms, the difference between older migrants’ and non-migrants’ loneliness is reduced to more than half. Being an older migrant and belonging to a minority might further contribute to feelings of loneliness. Interventions should not be directed at stimulating social contact, but rather, for example, at enhancing the appreciation of their social status and at avoiding negative interpretations of the situation.

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Keywords Health, Loneliness, Older migrants, Psychometric properties
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Journal Tijdschrift voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie
van Tilburg, T.G, & Fokkema, T. (2018). Hogere eenzaamheid onder Marokkaanse en Turkse ouderen in Nederland: Op zoek naar een verklaring. Tijdschrift voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie, 49(6), 263–273. doi:10.1007/s12439-018-0269-1