Internal Migration, Elderly Care, and Mortality in China

Zhenhua Xu, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The substantial rural to city migration since the 1980s in China has led to an increase in left-behind elderly parents in rural China. This paper investigates whether and how outmigration of children affects the mortality risks for left-behind parents, the mechanisms through which this process might occur, and whether the effect differs by son or daughter. Potential mechanisms we examine include monetary and instrumental assistance, and emotional support. We draw data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS). We use propensity score matching (PSM) to correct the selection issue of migration and Cox proportional hazards model to estimate the causal effects of having migrant children on mortality hazards for the left-behind parents. We find increasing number of migrant children is associated with greater remittances flows but lower the emotional well-being of the elderly parents. Results show parents who have children migrated to work have higher mortality risks than others.

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