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Did you know that migrants who speak the local language are more integrated and less lonely?

Recent contribution by WiSo Professor Lea Ellwardt to "Did you know that ...?"

[This content is not available in "Englisch" yet]

[This content is not available in "Englisch" yet]

Social relationships are important factors of subjective well-being, because a perceived lack of social integration often goes hand in hand with loneliness. So far however, only a few empirical studies have described the maintenance of transnational social relationships among immigrants.

In a recent article, WiSo Professor Lea Ellwardt and her colleague Maja Djundeva from the Erasmus University Rotterdam examined the social support networks of Polish migrants in the Netherlands. The researchers were also interested in which migrants reported increased loneliness. For this purpose, they evaluated survey data of more than 1,000 Poles who immigrated to the Netherlands.

Lea Ellwardt, from the Institute for Sociology and Social Psychology (ISS), and Maja Djundeva identified five different types of support networks, consisting of local and transnational contacts with kin and non-kin. Migrants with rather small networks consisting mainly of kin were at greatest risk of loneliness. A key predictor of maintaining non-kin contacts in the host country (in this case the Netherlands) was proficiency of the local language (Dutch). The researchers conclude that learning the host country’s language can be beneficial in terms of greater integration in local networks and reduced risk of loneliness.