chapter  11
13 Pages

Confronting economic precariousness through international retirement migration: Japan’s old-age ‘economic refugees’ and Germany’s ‘exported grannies’


Many of the world’s demographically oldest countries are increasingly ‘outsourcing’ care from abroad for their elderly. Indeed, seniors wishing to age in place in countries like Germany and Singapore are making – and in some cases, as in Japan, beginning to explore how to make – use of at-home help, frequently provided by female migrant care workers (see e.g. Lutz and Palenga-Mollenbeck 2010; Lopez 2012; Huang et al. 2012). However, as with the 2011 film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, premised on budget-conscious British pensioners opting to spend the rest of their lives in India, more seniors are also relocating abroad for more affordable long-term domestic or institutional living and care arrangements (Toyota 2006; Ormond 2014). Compared with traditional accounts of ‘international retirement migration’ (IRM), which take as their prime subjects a pool of relatively autonomous, mobile, affluent, healthy ‘young old’ (King et al. 2000), this relatively novel type of relocation draws attention to the significance of economic precariousness and its attendant embodied socio-spatial dependencies, vulnerabilities, and ‘stuckness’ (Cresswell 2012) underlying this form of transnational mobility for many older people living abroad.