Retirement, Health, and Migration from Nonmetro Counties: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Survey

Nan E. Johnson, Michigan State University

Using an Event History Analysis of six biennial waves of the Health and Retirement Survey (1994 - 2004), I examined the pre-migration characteristics of older adults living in nonmetro counties in 1994 to see who stayed, who migrated, where they went (a metro or nonmetro county), and why. Retirement within the past year was the most powerful predictor of migration from a nonmetro origin, but did not predict the destination (metro vs. nonmetro). Consistently with Litwak and Longino’s theory, nonmetro migrants who went to live nearer, or with, kin and friends were more likely to go to metro than nonmetro destinations. Contrary to the theory, prior changes in four measures of health could not distinguish nonmetro nonmigrants from nonmetro outmigrants nor discriminate their destinations (metro from nonmetro). Thus, the first observable migration by nonmetro-origin older adults may have been in expectation of future needs for assistance.

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Presented in Session 71: Internal Migration across the Life Course