Left Behind: The Effects of Children’s Migration on Elderly Parents’ Health

Erika Arenas, University of California, Los Angeles
Jenjira Yahirun, University of California, Los Angeles

Family disruption due to migration represents a stressful event for the parents left behind with serious implications for their mental health. This paper has four aims. First, we investigate how adult children's migration affects the mental health of elderly parents left behind. Second, we investigate if this effect varies by type of migration, internal vs. International. Third, we examine if this effect varies by elderly parents’ characteristics such as physical health, childlessness, widowhood, living arrangements, urban/rural residence, and education. Fourth, we examine if this effect is mitigated by the impact of receiving financial transfers from their children. Finally, we ask whether the impact of migration on mental health varies by migrant children’s characteristics such as sex, education, and birth order. We use representative longitudinal data from the Mexican Family Life Survey which includes a wide array of mental and physical health measures, elderly parent’s and children characteristics.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 51: Factors Influencing Health in Later Life: Evidence from Developing Countries