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Language barriers and health status of elderly migrants: Micro-evidence from China

Shengfeng Lu, Sixia Chen and Peigang Wang

China Economic Review, 2019, vol. 54, issue C, 94-112

Abstract: This paper empirically examines the effect of language barrier on elderly migrants' health status by exploiting individual-level data from the “China National Health Survey of Migrants 2015” database. We build an indicator of language barrier with geographical distribution information of Chinese dialect regions, and further separate the language effect from the migration effect by checking whether migrants move into a region with a different dialect. Results indicate a significant and negative impact of the language barrier on the health status of elderly migrants. Specifically, a language barrier results in poorer health conditions for younger elders. The mechanism test shows that a language barrier reduces migrants' abilities to build a social network, which is harmful to their health. Elderly migrants who are less-educated, live in host residence for a shorter time and move for business incentives suffer more from a language barrier. This study proves the power of a verbal language barrier to migrants' health.

Keywords: Language barrier; Health status; Dialect region; Difference-in-differences (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I14 J14 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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