Shocks to Maternal Health, Caregiving, and Geographic Proximity among Family Members in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics

Kathleen McGarry, University of California, Los Angeles
Emily Wiemers, University of Michigan

This paper uses the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the relationship between the health of aging unmarried mothers and geographic proximity to their adult children. We examine whether the onset of poor health affects proximity of mothers and children. Our hypothesis is that as parents fall into ill health and require care, children may move closer to their parent—or parents to their children—to more easily provide the needed care or alternatively, to supervise the provision of paid (formal) care. In particular, we focus on the relationship between past proximity and current proximity between mothers and their children when mothers begin to age and become sick. Among those with more than one child, we examine which child is most likely to move closer (or which child is the mother most likely to move closer to) when health declines.

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Presented in Session 46: The Elderly and Their Kin:  Contact, Care and Social Support