Neighbourhood Ethnic Density, Local Language Skills, and Loneliness among Older Migrants—: A Population-Based Study on Russian Speakers in Finland

Laura Kemppainen*, Teemu Kemppainen, Tineke Fokkema, Sirpa Wrede, Anne Kouvonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


So far, little attention has been paid to contextual factors shaping loneliness and their interaction with individual characteristics. Moreover, the few existing studies have not included older migrants, identified as a group who are vulnerable to loneliness. This study examined the association between neighbourhood ethnic density (the proportion of own-group residents and the proportion of other ethnic residents in an area) and loneliness among older migrants. Furthermore, we investigated whether local language skills moderated this association. A population-based representative survey (The CHARM study, n = 1082, 57% men, mean age 63.2 years) and postal code area statistics were used to study Russian-speaking migrants aged 50 or older in Finland. The study design and data are hierarchical, with individuals nested in postcode areas. We accounted for this by estimating corresponding mixed models. We used a linear outcome specification and conducted logistic and ordinal robustness checks. After controlling for covariates, we found that ethnic density variables (measured as the proportion of Russian speakers and the proportion of other foreign speakers) were not associated with loneliness. Our interaction results showed that increased own-group ethnic density was associated with a higher level of loneliness among those with good local language skills but not among those with weaker skills. Good local language skills may indicate a stronger orientation towards the mainstream destination society and living in a neighbourhood with a higher concentration of own-language speakers may feel alienating for those who wish to be more included in mainstream society.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1117
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research has been funded by the Academy of Finland (grants 312310 and 336669 for the Centre of Excellence for Research on Ageing and Care, RG 3 Migration, Care and Ageing) for S.W., A.K., and L.K., the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland (grants 327145, 327148, 352501 and 352504 for the DigiIN project) for A.K. and L.K. and the University of Helsinki three-year grants (project TransHealth) for L.K.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

Research programs



Dive into the research topics of 'Neighbourhood Ethnic Density, Local Language Skills, and Loneliness among Older Migrants—: A Population-Based Study on Russian Speakers in Finland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this