The project is structured in three sub-projects.


Sub-project 1: Understanding vulnerability among older migrants and natives

This sub-project consists of secondary data analysis of older migrants and natives in Switzerland to examine the similarities and differences between these two groups regarding the presence and influencing factors of vulnerability. We aim to create an overall indicator of life-course vulnerability by looking at and combining domain-specific life-course trajectories (profession, health, family life, migration history). Additionally, we will create a typology of transnationalism among migrants.

With this sub-project, we intend to answer the following research questions:

  • How does migration affect old-age vulnerability?
  • Do older migrants and natives differ in their forms and types of vulnerability?
  • How does life-course vulnerability influence well-being in old age?
  • How do migrants and natives protect themselves from vulnerability in old age?

One of the datasets we use comes from the survey “Vivre-Leben-Vivere: Old Age Democratisation? Progresses and Inequalities in Switzerland” (VLV). This was conducted in 2011/2012 in five Swiss cantons (Geneva, Valais, Berne, Basel and Ticino) and includes a representative sample of elderly persons and a sub-sample of older migrants. The survey used two questionnaires and a life history calendar to record major events of changes in residence, family, professional, health and migration trajectories.

The results will give us a better understanding of the differences and similarities between migrants and natives regarding their vulnerability and well-being in old age as well as of the relationship between these two concepts.


Sub-project 2: TransAge survey

In this sub-project, an original survey of forms of transnationalism and vulnerability will be undertaken in Switzerland and in Italy. The sample will include four groups of persons aged 65 and over: older Italian migrants in Switzerland, older natives in Switzerland, older natives in Italy and older internal migrants in Italy. With this exceptional comparative research design, we are able to compare like with like, meaning that we can compare international migrants with internal migrants and non-migrants. This allows us to examine the importance of international and internal migration for transnationalism and vulnerability in old age. The analysis of the data will serve to fine-tune and improve our indicator of life-course vulnerability and our typology of transnationalism from sub-project 1.

With this sub-project, we intend to answer the following research questions:

  • How does internal and international migration affect old-age vulnerability?
  • How do internal, international, and non-migrants differ in their forms of transnationalism?
  • How do internal, international, and non-migrants protect themselves from old-age vulnerability?
  • Does transnationalism serve as a protection from old-age vulnerability among international migrants?

The results will add to the scientific literature on international and internal migration as well as transnationalism and will inform and give new insights to policy makers and the public about vulnerability of older migrants in Switzerland.


Sub-project 3: Ethnographic research

The aims of this sub-project are (1) to deepen the understanding of the forms of transnationalism undertaken by natives, international and internal long-distance migrants to overcome vulnerability in old age; and (2) to tease out the process of developing such transnational practices.

These aspects will be studied using an ethnographic approach, including (a) in-depth interviews with the four study populations, (b) mapping of local institutions, which favour trans-nationalism and trans-localism, (c) interviews with representatives of these institutions, and (d) analysis of journal announcements targeting foreign populations.

Incorporating all of these methods, allows us to capture a comprehensive understanding of the cumulative processes through which people enter situations of vulnerability, the mechanisms of surpassing, compensating and achieving well-being, and the way in which people develop different forms of transnationalism.