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Retirement Preparations among Migrants in Europe (2022-2026)

with Sara Marcora, Dr. Marleen Damman, and Prof. Dr. Marcel Lubbers

In light of population aging and the increasing ethnic diversity of the older population within Europe, improving our understanding of retirement preparation of migrants has been indicated as one of the main “pressing issues for the coming decade”. Given that in many pension systems there is a close connection between residence, earnings over the life course and retirement entitlements, migration history can be expected to affect migrants’ retirement preparation. Also, cultural socialization in the origin country may play a role: migrants might vary from the native population in their knowledge and attitudes about the role that the government, family, and individual play for ensuring a decent standard of living for the old. Yet, very little is known about retirement preparation among migrants. How do individuals from various migrant groups differ from the native population across European countries in their preparation for retirement, and how can these differences be explained?

Psychologists, sociologists, and economists generally focus on distinct aspects of the retirement preparation process in their studies. To achieve a comprehensive understanding of retirement preparation, this project will therefore take an interdisciplinary approach. Migrants can be expected to differ from the native population in terms of psychological factors (e.g., perceived knowledge about pension rights), sociological factors (e.g., attitudes toward pension institutions), and economic factors (e.g., pension entitlements). Consequently, they can be expected to differ from natives in their plans for retirement (e.g., in terms of retirement timing and financial support by family members). The envisioned papers and methods are:

  1. Knowledge about pension rights (psy) – Quantitative: MIFARE data (DE, DK, NL)

  2. Attitudes toward pension institutions (soc) – Quantitative: MIFARE data (DE, DK, NL)

  3. Pension entitlements (eco) – Quantitative: SHARE data (28 European countries)

  4. Plans for retirement (all) – Mixed methods: SHARE data and qualitative interviews


This project will strengthen the UU-strategic theme IoS and the focus area Migration and Societal change, through realizing a better understanding of the potentially precarious position of migrant groups across institutional contexts. By both examining different destination countries, and paying attention to the country of origin, insights will be achieved regarding the role that pension institutions and cultural background play for retirement preparation.

From Perceptions to Behavior? Examining Knowledge Barriers to Formal Childcare Usage among Dutch Parents (2021-2023)

with Dr. Mara Yerkes, Utrecht University

While formal childcare has crucial for female labor market participation and children's' cognitive and linguistic developments, we observe large discrepancies between families in the use of formal childcare. Low-income families and families with migration backgrounds make significantly less use of formal childcare, creating long-term inequalities for both children and parents. 

A key but understudied factor behind variation in formal childcare use are parents’ perceptions of childcare accessibility. While formal childcare is accessible in theory, many parents may lack real opportunities to make use of such resources in practice resulting in an intensification of inequalities along class and ethnic lines. It is very likely that low-income and migrant families perceive formal childcare as less accessible, for example by overestimating the costs for childcare, which translates into large gaps between groups in the use of formal childcare.

Research from predominately qualitative studies suggests that one of the biggest barriers to perceived accessibility of childcare for low-income and migrant families is, what we call, lack of ‘system knowledge’. System knowledge refers to knowledge about the organization of government service and related application procedures, as well as functional and digital literacy. So far, low-income and migrant families remain difficult to reach, and studies examining parents’ system knowledge are absent, thereby limiting our knowledge regarding the influence of system knowledge on perceived accessibility of formal childcare and finally, childcare behavior.

In this project, we are therefore investigating the relationship between system knowledge, perceived accessibility of childcare, and childcare behavior among Dutch parents. We will do so by collecting longitudinal data with the Dutch Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences (LISS) Panel, for which we were awarded a grant in December 2020. 

By identifying key knowledge barriers to accessing formal childcare, interventions can be developed to improving equal formal childcare access, thereby contributing to reducing inequalities between natives and migrants as well as higher- and lower-income families. 

After the so-called 'refugee crisis' has peaked in 2015, opinions about refugees in and the governmental and societal obligations towards refugees are polarized. In this study we aim to find out how the majority population in Germany thinks about the 'refugee situation'. Next to questions regarding the governments' ability to deal with the refugee situation, we are particularly interested in what Germans perceive as fair when it comes to the financial contribution towards accepted asylum seekers. We apply a unique experimental design using a vignette study in order to understand, which amount of financial support native Germans perceive as fair and how their perception is influenced by certain characteristics of the accepted asylum seekers. 

We thereby contribute to one of the most heated discussions, namely the redistribution of  government money to asylum seekers and how this is perceived by the majority population. This study is financed by the Independent Research Start-up Grant  and the Konstanzia Fellowship (University of Konstanz).

The preliminary methods report (german) and codebook (german) can be found here and here.

Attitudes towards the Refugee Situation (Einstellungen zur Flüchtlingssituation [EZFS]) (2016-2018)


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