Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-568f69f84b-r4dm2 Total loading time: 0.194 Render date: 2021-09-19T12:08:55.605Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Ageing well in a foreign land: group memberships protect older immigrants’ wellbeing through enabling social support and integration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 December 2020

Catherine Haslam*
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Sharon Dane
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Ben C. P. Lam
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Jolanda Jetten
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Shuang Liu
School of Communication & Arts, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Cindy Gallois
School of Psychology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia School of Communication & Arts, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Tran Le Nghi Tran
School of Communication & Arts, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
*Corresponding author. Email:


Despite the numerous challenges of ageing in a foreign land, many older immigrants are fairly resilient and report experiencing good wellbeing. The key question that the present paper addresses is how this is achieved. Drawing on frameworks from cross-cultural and social identity literatures, the present study proposes and tests a model of serial multiple mediation that identifies possible mechanisms supporting the wellbeing of older immigrants who have resided in the host country for some time. In this model, it is predicted that new group memberships acquired post-migration enable access to social support that in turn provides the basis for perceived integration, which enhances wellbeing. This model was tested in a survey study with 102 older people, whose mean age was 80.3 years and who had migrated to Australia from Asian, European, and Central and South American countries on average 36 years previously. The survey assessed cultural identity, social group memberships acquired post-migration, perceived social support, perceived integration and wellbeing. Results supported the hypothesised model, indicating that joining new heritage culture and wider groups in Australia post-migration provided a platform for social support and integration, which enhanced life satisfaction and reduced loneliness. The implications of these findings for theory and adapting successfully to both migration and ageing are discussed.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Agler, R and De Boek, P (2017) On the interpretation and use of mediation: multiple perspectives on mediation analysis. Frontiers in Psychology 8, 1984.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bennett, DA, Schneider, JA, Tang, Y, Arnold, SE and Wilson, RS (2006) The effect of social networks on the relation between Alzheimer's disease pathology and level of cognitive function in old people: a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet Neurology 5, 406412.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Berry, JW (2005) Acculturation: living successfully in two cultures. International Journal of Cultural Relations 29, 697712.Google Scholar
Berry, JW, Kim, U, Power, S, Young, M and Bujaki, M (1989) Acculturation attitudes in plural societies. Applied Psychology: An International Review 38, 185206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Birman, D and Simon, CD (2014) Acculturation research: challenges, complexities, and possibilities. In Leong, F, Comas-Diaz, L, Nagayama Hall, G and Trimble, J (eds), APA Handbook of Multicultural Psychology, Vol. 1, Theory and Research. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, pp. 207230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chen, SX, Benet-Martinez, V and Bond, MH (2008) Bicultural identity, bilingualism, and psychological adjustment in multicultural societies: immigration-based and globalization-based acculturation. Journal of Personality 76, 803838.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cheung, F and Lucas, RE (2014) Assessing the validity of a single-item life satisfaction measure: results from three large scale samples. Quality of Life Research 23, 28092818.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Diener, E, Emmons, RA, Larsen, RJ and Griffin, S (1985) The satisfaction with life scale. Personality Assessment 49, 7175.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Djundeva, M and Ellwardt, L (2019) Social support networks and loneliness of Polish migrants in the Netherlands. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 7, 12811300.Google Scholar
Drury, J and Winter, G (2004) Social identity as a source of strength in mass emergencies and other crowd events. International Journal of Mental Health 32, 7793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ertel, KA, Glymour, MM and Berkman, LF (2008) Effects of social integration on preserving memory function in a nationally representative US elderly population. American Journal of Public Health 98, 12151220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Frisch, JU, Häusser, JA, van Dick, R and Mojzisch, A (2014) Making support work: the interplay between social support and social identity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 55, 154161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fritz, MS and MacKinnon, DP (2007) Required sample size to detect the mediated effect. Psychological Science 18, 233239.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Genkova, AG, Trickett, EJ, Birman, D and Vinokurov, A (2014) Acculturation and adjustment of elderly émigrés from the former Soviet Union: a life domains perspective. Psychosocial Intervention 23, 8393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Giles, LC, Anstey, KJ, Walker, R and Luszcz, MA (2012) Social networks and memory over 15 years of follow-up in a cohort of older Australians: results from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Journal of Aging Research 2012, 856048.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gleibs, I, Haslam, C, Jones, J, Haslam, SA, McNeil, J and Connolly, H (2011) No country for old men? The role of a Gentlemen's Club in promoting social engagement and psychological well-being in residential care. Aging and Mental Health 15, 456466.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Greenaway, KH, Haslam, SA, Branscombe, N, Cruwys, T, Ysseldyk, R and Heldreth, C (2015) From ‘we’ to ‘me’: group identification enhances perceived personal control with consequences for health and well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 109, 5374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Guo, M, Stensland, M, Li, M, Dong, X and Tiwari, A (2018) Is migration at older age associated with poorer psychological wellbeing? Evidence from Chinese older immigrants in the United States. The Gerontologist 59, 865876.Google Scholar
Haslam, SA, Jetten, J, O'Brien, A and Jacobs, E (2004) Social identity, social influence, and reactions to potentially stressful tasks: support for the self-categorization model of stress. Stress and Health 20, 39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haslam, SA, O'Brien, A, Jetten, J, Vormedal, K and Penna, S (2005) Taking the strain: social identity, social support and the experience of stress. British Journal of Social Psychology 44, 355370.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Haslam, C, Holme, A, Haslam, SA, Iyer, A, Jetten, J and Williams, WH (2008) Maintaining group memberships: social identity continuity predicts well-being after stroke. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation 18, 671691.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Haslam, C, Cruwys, T, Milne, M, Kan, C-H and Haslam, SA (2016) Group ties protect cognitive health by promoting social identification and social support. Journal of Aging and Health 26, 244266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haslam, C, Jetten, J, Cruwys, T, Dingle, GA and Haslam, SA (2018 a) The New Psychology of Health: Unlocking the Social Cure. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haslam, C, Lam, BCP, Branscombe, NR, Ball, TC, Fong, P, Steffens, NK and Haslam, SA (2018 b) Adjusting to life in retirement: the protective role of membership and identification with new groups. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 27, 822839.Google Scholar
Haslam, C, Steffens, NK, Branscombe, NR, Haslam, SA, Cruwys, T, Lam, B, Pachana, N and Yang, J (2019) The importance of social groups for retirement adjustment: evidence, application, and policy implications of the Social Identity Model of Identity Change. Social Issues and Policy Review 13, 93124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haslam, C, Haslam, SA, Jetten, J, Cruwys, T and Steffens, NK (in press) Life change, social identity and health. Annual Review of Psychology. Available online Scholar
Hayes, AF (2018) Introduction to Mediation, Moderation, and Conditional Process Analysis: A Regression-based Approach, 2nd Edn. New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Hughes, ME, Waite, LJ, Hawkley, LC and Cacioppo, JT (2004) A short scale for measuring loneliness in large surveys results from two population-based studies. Research on Aging 26, 655672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Inoue, Y, Funk, DC, Wann, DL, Yoshida, M and Nakazawa, M (2015) Team identification and post-disaster social well-being: the mediating role of social support. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice 19, 3144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Iyer, A, Jetten, J, Tsivrikos, D, Postmes, T and Haslam, SA (2009) The more (and the more compatible) the merrier: multiple group memberships and identity compatibility as predictors of adjustment after life transitions. British Journal of Social Psychology 48, 707733.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Jasinskaja-Lahti, I, Liebkind, K, Jaakkola, M and Reuter, A (2006) Perceived discrimination, social support networks, and psychological well-being among three immigrant groups. Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology 37, 293311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jetten, J, Haslam, C, Haslam, SA and Branscombe, NR (2009) The social cure. Scientific American Mind 20, 2633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jetten, J, Haslam, C and Haslam, SA (2012) The Social Cure: Identity, Health and well-Being. London: Psychology Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jetten, J, Branscombe, NR, Haslam, SA, Haslam, C, Cruwys, T, Jones, JM, Cui, L, Dingle, GA, Liu, J, Murphy, S, Thai, A, Walter, Z and Zhang, A (2015) Having a lot of a good thing: multiple important group memberships as a source of self-esteem. PLOS ONE 10, e0131035.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Jetten, J, Dane, S, Williams, E, Liu, S, Haslam, C, Gallois, C and McDonald, V (2018) Ageing well in a foreign land as a process of successful social identity change. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Health & Well-being 13, 1508198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Katz, R (2009) Intergenerational family relations and life satisfaction among three elderly population groups in transition in the Israeli multi-cultural society. Journal of Cross-cultural Gerontology 24, 7791.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kinman, G, Wray, S and Strange, C (2011) Emotional labour, burnout, and job satisfaction in UK teachers: the role of workplace social support. Educational Psychology 31, 843856.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kritz, M, Gurak, DT and Chen, L (2000) Elderly immigrants: their composition and living arrangements. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 27, 85114.Google Scholar
Lee, J, Hong, J, Zhou, Y and Robles, G (2019) The relationships between loneliness, social support, and resilience among Latinx immigrants in the United States. Clinical Social Work Journal 48, 99109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levine, RM, Prosser, A, Evans, D and Reicher, SD (2005) Identity and emergency intervention: how social group membership and inclusiveness of group boundaries shapes helping behaviour. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 31, 443453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
MacKinnon, DP, Lockwood, CM and Williams, J (2004) Confidence limits for the indirect effect: Distribution of the product and resampling methods. Multivariate Behavioral Research 39, 99128.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Morosanu, L (2013) Between fragmented ties and ‘soul friendships’: the cross-border social connections of young Romanians in London. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 39, 353372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Muldoon, OT, Acharya, K, Jay, S, Adhikari, K, Pettigrew, J and Lowe, RD (2017) Community identity and collective efficacy: a social cure for traumatic stress in post-earthquake Nepal. European Journal of Social Psychology 47, 904915.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nguyen, A-MD and Benet-Martinez, V (2013) Biculturalism and adjustment: a meta-analysis. Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology 44, 122159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Piferi, RL and Lawler, KA (2006) Social support and ambulatory blood pressure: an examination of both giving and receiving. International Journal of Psychophysiology 62, 328336.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Preacher, KJ and Hayes, AF (2004) SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect effects in simple mediation models. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers 36, 717731.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Preacher, KJ and Hayes, AF (2008) Contemporary approaches to assessing mediation in communication research. In Hayes, AF, Slater, MD and Snyder, LB (eds), The Sage Sourcebook of Advanced Data Analysis Methods for Communication Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, pp. 1354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reblin, M and Uchino, BU (2008) Social and emotional support and its implications for health. Current Opinion in Psychiatry 21, 201205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schwartz, SJ, Zamboanga, BL, Rodriguez, L and Wang, SC (2007) The structure of cultural identity in an ethnically diverse sample of emerging adults. Basic and Applied Social Psychology 29, 159173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schwartz, SJ, Unger, JB, Zamboanga, BL and Szapocznik, J (2010) Rethinking the concept of acculturation. American Psychologist 65, 237251.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Silveria, E and Allebeck, P (2001) Migration, ageing and mental health: an ethnographic study on perceptions of life satisfaction, anxiety and depression in older Somali men in east London. International Journal of Social Welfare 10, 309320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steffens, NK, Jetten, J, Haslam, C, Cruwys, T and Haslam, SA (2016) Multiple social identities enhance health post-retirement because they are a basis for giving social support. Frontiers in Psychology 7, 1519.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Szapocznik, J, Kurtines, W and Fernandez, T (1980) Bicultural involvement and adjustment in Hispanic-American youths. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 4, 353365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tajfel, H and Turner, J (1979) An integrative theory of inter-group conflict. In Austin, WG and Worcher, S (eds), The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole, pp. 3347.Google Scholar
Treas, J and Mazumdar, S (2002) Older people in America's immigrant families: dilemmas of dependence, integration and isolation. Journal of Aging Studies 16, 243258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Turner, JC, Hogg, MA, Oakes, PJ, Reicher, SD and Wetherell, MS (1987) Rediscovering the Social Group: A Self-categorization Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Williams, J and MacKinnon, DP (2008) Resampling and distribution of the product methods for testing indirect effects in complex models. Structural Equation Modeling 15, 2351.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Ageing well in a foreign land: group memberships protect older immigrants’ wellbeing through enabling social support and integration
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Ageing well in a foreign land: group memberships protect older immigrants’ wellbeing through enabling social support and integration
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Ageing well in a foreign land: group memberships protect older immigrants’ wellbeing through enabling social support and integration
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *