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How does internal migration affect the emotional health of elderly parents left-behind?

Juliane Scheffel () and Yiwei Zhang

Journal of Population Economics, 2019, vol. 32, issue 3, No 7, 953-980

Abstract: Abstract The ageing population resulting from the one-child policy and massive flows of internal migration in China pose major challenges to elderly care in rural areas where elderly support is based on a traditional inter-generational family support mechanism. We use data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study to examine how migration of an adult child affects the emotional health of elderly parents left-behind. We identify the effects using fixed effects and IV approaches which rely on different sources of variation. We find that migration reduces happiness by 6.6 percentage points and leads to a 3.3 percentage points higher probability of loneliness. CES-D scores of elderly parents are severely increased pushing average scores close to the cut-off indicating clinical levels of depressive symptoms. As emotional health is a key determinant of the overall health status, our findings have significant impacts on economic development in China.

Keywords: Internal migration; China; Mental health; Elderly parents; Left-behind (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I15 J14 O15 R23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Working Paper: How Does Internal Migration Affect the Emotional Health of Elderly Parents Left-Behind? (2016) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1007/s00148-018-0715-y

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