The Impact of Adult Children’s Out-Migration on the Elders’ Psychological Well-Being in Rural China: Does Gender Matter?

Lu Song, Soochow University
Merril Silverstein, Syracuse University
Shuzhuo Li, Xi'an Jiaotong University

Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Older Adults in Anhui Province, China, this study examined the impact of adult children’s out-migration on the psychological well-being of older Chinese parents left behind in their rural villages. Analyses showed that, the out-migration of children reduced the psychological well-being of their parents, particularly among older fathers. However, the transition to coresidence with an adult child buffered the negative impact of daughters’ out-migration on the psychological well-being of older mothers. These results suggest ambivalent feelings on the part of older parents when their adult children migrate out of their home villages. However, there is an important gender division in the adaptation to the out-migration of children. Mothers benefited from entering into a traditional multi-generational living arrangement when their daughters migrated; comparable fathers suffered from worse psychological well-being following entry into such an arrangement, presumably because living with children increased their dependence.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Population Aging; Gender, Race and Ethnicity