Elderly Immigrants Living Conditions in Denmark

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 15:15
Oral Presentation
Jørgen LARSEN, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
John ANDERSEN, Roskilde University, Denmark
Iver Hornemann MØLLER, Copenhagen Bussiness School, Denmark
The purpose of the paper

The paper analyzes the problems of redistribution and recognition that elderly immigrants face in Denmark since elderly immigrants are among the most marginalized Danish citizens.

Methodology approach

Living conditions for elderly Danes and for elderly immigrants are compared and analyzed with the help of different theoretical concepts of recognition and distribution applying, among others, the works of Amartya Sen and Nancy Frazer. The empirical data consist of documents on the political and discursive climate around legislation on ethnic minority matters (for example pensions and care services), and data on living conditions. The paper also analyzes recent municipality policies (for example in the Copenhagen) that are trying to address the challenges that elderly immigrants are facing with regard to socioeconomic inequality and social services.


As in other Western countries, the Danish political discourse since the 1990s have taken a strong right wing turn with the emergence of anti-immigration populism seriously affecting immigrants’ and refugees’ rights and their possibilities for socio-cultural and socio-economic inclusion. These changes have been driven by a dominating liberalistic ideology including an almost unlimited focus on a “work first” discourse followed by a “fraction old-age pension” (where level of pension depends on years in Denmark) and reductions in the duration of levels of other social benefits. Poverty, in particular among old age immigrants, has increased significantly and underlines that a focus on minority ethnic issues provides a reminder of the complexity of the life course trajectory, and of the diversity of aging as a cultural, political and social construction.

The value of the paper is that it integrates different theoretical perspectives on inclusion and exclusion of elderly immigrants and employs different empirical material (quantitative and qualitative) to underpin, discuss and challenge these theoretical perspectives.