Webinar: Older migrants, race and racism

The IMISCOE Anti-Racism Working Group (ARWG) webinar series continues thanks to the Older Migrants Standing Committee

23/05/2022 (14:00-15:30 CEST)


Guest Speakers:

The Standing Committee Older Migrants from the IMISCOE network invites you to a webinar on the 23rd of May 2022 from 14:00 to 15:30 CEST

Sandra Torres (Uppsala University, Sweden) and Laia Bécares (University of Sussex, United Kingdom) will discuss about older migrants, race and racism. The two talks are complementary, with the first drawing on a vast scoping review bringing the fields of gerontology, migration studies, and ethnicity and race, and the second doing an empirical quantitative analysis of ethnic inequalities and more particularly racism driven inequalities and their impact on health in later life.

Presentation 1:

Racialization and racism in research on older migrants and ethno-racial minorities: insights from two scoping reviews

Sandra Torres, Uppsala University, Sweden

The study of ethno-racial minorities used to be the sole domain of social gerontologists (mainly those based in the US). Gerontology is known for being an empirically rich but theory-poor field, for its essentialists’ understanding of ethnicity and race and for its relatively disregard for the identification ground that is migrancy. This has resulted in what the presenter has referred to as scholarship characterized by ‘racialization without racism’. As European migration researchers’ interests for old age/ aging awoke, new approaches to the study of ethno-racial minorities arose. These approaches have placed migrancy (rather than ethnicity and race) at the center of their inquiries, have expanded the vernacular of social gerontologists, and have ignited interest in the study of older migrants and ethno-racial minorities amongst a new generation of social scientists in an array of other fields. Thus, over the past decade (thanks to, among others, the work that the IMISCOE’s Standing Committee on Older Migrants has done), we have witnessed how stimulating scholarly collaborations have been established that are expanding the scholarly imagination of both social gerontologists and migration scholars. Topics that have never been on the radar of social gerontology (such as racism and racialization) are being added to the scholarly agenda while angles of investigation that are central to social gerontology have expanded the imagination of migration scholars (such as QoL and active aging to name but a few). This presentation relies on empirical evidence gathered through two scoping reviews that have aimed primarily to map out the two scholarly fields alluded to here. The first scoping review covers the last 23 years of peer-reviewed articles on the intersection of ethnicity/ race and aging/ old age; n=400), while the second one – which is still ongoing - focuses solely on older migrants. This presentation will first draw attention to the conceptualizations of ethnicity and race that inform both of the scholarships in question, the lines of inquiry that have received the most attention, and the ones that remain unexplored since these topics will set the stage for the much needed discussion on racism in old age that this webinar will facilitate. The scoping reviews show namely that empirical inquiries on racism are extremely rare as far as older populations are concerned, and that racialization has yet to leave a mark in the vernacular of these fields. Thus, this webinar will offer a platform for the much needed discussion on the role that racism and racial discrimination play in the life-course, and the ways in which these experiences impact aging/ old age.

Presentation 2:

Ethnic inequalities in health in later life: documenting their persistence over time, and understanding the role of racism as their key driver

Laia Bécares, University of Sussex

Ethnic inequalities in health have been globally documented. In the UK, the body of evidence is well-established for patterns of inequality during the early and mid-life course, but the prevalence and persistence of ethnic inequalities in later life, as well as the drivers of these inequalities, is less well known. This paper presents findings from two separate analyses that speak to this gap: the first set of analysis takes a novel approach to examining ethnic health inequalities over time, by harmonising six nationally-representative health and social survey datasets with appropriate ethnic minority boost samples spanning more than 20 years to investigate ethnic inequalities in health in later life. Findings show the clear persistence of ethnic inequalities in limiting long-term illness and self-rated health over more than two decades. The second set of analysis centres racism as the main driver of ethnic inequalities in later life, and aims to understand how longstanding exposure to racial discrimination impacts on the health of minoritised ethnic groups both directly, and indirectly via socioeconomic inequalities. Findings from longitudinal structural equation models conducted on data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study indicate that exposure to racial discrimination severely and negatively impacts the health of people from minoritised ethnic groups over time.

Standing Committee Older migrants

Co-coordinators: Tineke Fokkema (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, University of Groningen, Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Ruxandra Oana Ciobanu (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, Faculty of Social Work, HETSL | HES-SO)

If you wish to attend this webinar,  you have to register first so we can have an approximate idea of the number of participants : 


 The event will take place online via Cisco Webex : 


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