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Being lonely later in life: a qualitative study among Albanians and Moroccans in Italy



This study focuses on the social wellbeing of older migrants in Italy, an important yet neglected topic in the Italian political and scholarly debate. Knowledge about the lived experience of loneliness and its perceived causes was gathered by means of 34 in-depth interviews with Albanian and Moroccan migrants aged 50 and above living in the Marche region. Our findings show that the participants are surrounded by family and are largely satisfied with the contact they have with relatives; this protects them from social isolation but not from loneliness. Although they rarely express this to their spouse and friends (men) or their children (men and women), feelings of loneliness are widely experienced among the participants. The root of their loneliness largely relates to a lack of meaningful relationships with non-related age peers – having a chat, remembering old times, socialising with others when family members are busy, talking about intimate matters they cannot or will not share with relatives – which supports the argument of loneliness scholars that different types of relationships serve different functions and fulfil different needs. Having more contact with people outside the family circle, especially with co-ethnic peers, could reduce these feelings of loneliness substantially, but factors such as discrimination and lack of Italian language proficiency, free time, financial resources and nearby contact facilities are hindrances. These factors offer clues for public loneliness interventions.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Eralba Cela, Department of Economics and Social Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Piazzale Martelli 8, 60121, Ancona, Italy E-mail:


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Being lonely later in life: a qualitative study among Albanians and Moroccans in Italy



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