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Is Migration at Older Age Associated With Poorer Psychological Well-Being? Evidence from Chinese Older Immigrants in the United States


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Background and objectives: The migrating age of an individual has far-reaching implications for their acculturation experience, social integration, and well-being. This study addressed two questions: Is migrating at older age associated with poorer psychological well-being? If so, what factors account for such differences? Research design and methods: Using data of 3,138 Chinese elderly people in Chicago, we compared the levels of depression and quality of life among individuals who migrated in young adulthood (before 35), adulthood (35-49), midlife (50-64), and later life (65+). Negative binominal and logistic regressions were performed to examine the associations between age at migration and the two outcomes, controlling for demographics and four sets of explanatory variables (socioeconomic status, health status, acculturation level, and family/social relations). Results: The findings revealed mixed results. Migrating in later life was associated with more depressive symptoms, but also a higher chance of reporting good quality of life. Late-life immigrants' greater depression was partially contributed to their low income, lack of access to health care, poor physical health, and weak social relations. In contrast, regardless of the explanatory variables, migrating at middle age was associated with lower quality of life. Discussion and implications: Acknowledging that the older immigrant population is segmented with unique susceptibilities improves understanding of heterogeneity among the older immigrant populations and allows for targeted intervention. Gerontological practitioners should include migration history during their intakes and more actively screen for depression with socially isolated Chinese older immigrants who migrated at a later age.
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Journal of Family Issues
2018, Vol. 39(3) 622 –643
© The Author(s) 2016
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DOI: 10.1177/0192513X16676855
Relationships and
Psychological Well-Being
of Chinese Older Adults
With Migrant Children:
Does Internal or
International Migration
Make a Difference?
Man Guo1, Jinyu Liu2, Ling Xu3, Weiyu Mao4,5,
and Iris Chi4
Relying on a purposive sample of 550 Chinese older adults in Beijing, China, this
study examined the potential influence of children’s out-migration, internally
or internationally, on intergenerational relationships and parental well-being.
By comparing older adults in nonmigrant, internal migrant, transnational,
and hybrid (have both migrant and nonmigrant children) families, we found
that children’s out-migration only compromised intergenerational contact
and instrumental support, but not monetary or emotional support. Older
adults of different family types had similar levels of depression and life
satisfaction. Those in internal migrant families were most likely to report
financial worries, and those in transnational families were most likely to
1University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
2University of Columbia, New York, NY, USA
3University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX, USA
4University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
5University of Nevada, Reno, NV, USA
Corresponding Author:
Man Guo, School of Social Work, University of Iowa, 308 North Hall, Iowa City,
IA 52242-1223, USA.
676855JFIXXX10.1177/0192513X16676855Journal of Family IssuesGuo et al.
Guo et al. 623
worry about lack of care. The influence of children’s out-migration was
further confounded by parents’ coping resources. The findings suggest that
the vulnerability of the “left-behind” elderly might have been exaggerated.
Future studies shall distinguish different types of migration and the diversity
among older adults with migrant children.
immigration/migration, transnational families, older adults, psychological
well-being, China, intergenerational relations
International migration has become a more common experience in the mod-
ern era. In 2013, there were 232 million international migrants around the
world, a 25% increase since 2000 (United Nations, 2013). While facilitating
economic and social mobility around the globe, such migrations create a
growing number of transnational families that are geographically dispersed
over countries (Baldassar, 2007). It raises fundamental questions of family
structure and function in the context of globalization, presenting theoretical
and practical challenges for researchers and policy makers in both migrant-
sending and migrant-receiving societies (Falicov, 2005; Lunt, 2009).
Much literature on international migration has focused on the adaption of
immigrants and their families in the receiving societies (Marchetti-Mercer,
2012). But globally, far more people are left behind than emigrate (Baldassar,
2007; Toyota, Yeoh, & Nguyen, 2007). Among studies on the left-behind, the
focus has been on children, and much less is known regarding older adults
(Mazzucato & Schans, 2011). However, out-migration of young adults repre-
sents a particular risk factor for older parents who stay. As growing old often
results in increasing caregiving needs, adult children’s emigration may lead
to “care drain” of the parents left behind (Vullnetari & King, 2008). Compared
with children and young adults, it is also more difficult for older people to
learn a new language and to be uprooted and move to a new country, making
reunion with their migrant children either less feasible or less desirable.
Hearing and vision impairments that often accompany the aging process
could also impair the quality of communications between older adults and
their migrant children (Heikkinen & Lumme-Sandt, 2013).
In addition, not having international migrant children does not mean that
older adults have children living nearby. Internal migrations are more preva-
lent than international migrations in most countries, which also create geo-
graphically dispersed families. It is unknown whether older adults with
internationally migrating children resemble or differ from those who have
624 Journal of Family Issues 39(3)
internally migrating children, and whether the two groups fare less well com-
pared with those who live close to or with their children. To address the
research gaps, this study examined the potential influence of children’s out-
migration, both internally and internationally, on aging parents’ intergenera-
tional relationships and psychological well-being, by comparing older adults
in four types of families in Beijing, China: (a) local families (i.e., all children
stayed in Beijing), (b) hybrid families (i.e., at least one child stayed in Beijing
and at least one child migrated, internally and/or internationally), (c) internal
migrant families (all children in another/other province[s] in China), and (d)
transnational families (all children moved abroad).
Intergenerational Relations of Older Adults in
Migrant Families
Geographical proximity is often conceptualized as a prerequisite for close
family relationships and intergenerational exchanges (Mazzucato & Schans,
2011). Out-migration of adult children inevitably affects the preexisting
intergenerational relationships. Inherent in the migration context is the inabil-
ity to give and receive support that requires physical presence. Although
migrant children were reported to provide instrumental support such as per-
sonal care and help with household chores to their parents during visits
(Baldock, 2000, 2003), their parents commonly reported a loss of a key sup-
port source and lack of meaningful assistance during migrant children’s short
visits (Marchetti-Mercer, 2012; Şenyürekli & Detzner, 2008; Vullnetari &
King, 2008). Thanks to the advancement of communication technology, geo-
graphic distance seems to have less impact on non–in-person contacts (Lam,
Yeoh, & Law, 2002). Baldassar (2007) argued that the very existence of
transnational livelihood might be an incentive to establish regular and struc-
tured contact via phone calls and e-mails.
Many migrant children provide financial support to their parents left
behind. In some cases, the motivation to improve the financial conditions of
the family triggers the migration in the first place (Glick, 2010). For instance,
Ghanaian parents provided the capital to enable their children to migrate in
exchange for financial security in later life (Mazzucato, 2008). Young Indian
immigrants in the United States sent regular remittances to their parents in
India to cover the cost of domestic help or nursing care (Miltiades, 2002).
Older adults with better economic status rely less on migrant children for
economic support. A study of Turkish immigrants in the United States found
no financial exchanges between the participants and their parents in Turkey
(Şenyürekli & Detzner, 2008). Another study of upper middle-class elderly in
Guo et al. 625
Taiwan reported that, instead of expecting remittances from their children in
the United States, these parents financially supported their children to help
relieve stress of living in a foreign county (Sun, 2012).
In terms of emotional closeness, numerous studies have shown that despite
the distance, older adults in transnational families reported feeling close to
their migrant children as they did prior to the migration and migrant children
were enormously involved in providing emotional support to their parents
(Baldock, 2000; Falicov, 2005; Marchetti-Mercer, 2012).
Psychological Well-Being of Older Adults in
Migrant Families
According to the social convoy theory, the family is at the center of the
dynamic and hierarchical social relationships that an individual has
(Antonucci, Jackson, & Biggs, 2007). Out-migration of close kin disrupts the
pivotal relationships that an individual has, having serious psychological
consequences on those who are left behind (Marchetti-Mercer, 2012). For
older adults in particular, adult children are often of central importance, meet-
ing their social, economic, and emotional needs. It is not surprising, there-
fore, older adults with migrant children are often depicted universally in
negative images as abandoned, lonely, and depressed (Boccagni, 2013).
For instance, studies of rural elderly with internal migrant children in
developing countries have reported their increased sense of loss, loneliness,
isolation, and depression (Du, Ding, Li, & Gui, 2004; King & Vullnetari,
2006; Silverstein, Cong, & Li, 2006). One study of Chinese rural elderly
found that once the positive influence of migrant children’s monetary and
emotional support was taken into account, older adults with more internal
migrant children reported more depression and lower life satisfaction (Guo,
Aranda, & Silverstein, 2009). Studies of older adults in transnational fami-
lies in India, Albania, South Africa, and Taiwan documented similar feelings
of loss, abandonment, loneliness, insecurity, and even resentment after chil-
dren’s departure (Marchetti-Mercer, 2012; Miltiades, 2002; Sun, 2012;
Vullnetari & King, 2008). A few studies also described older adults’ mixed
feelings of sense of loss but also being proud of children’s successful settle-
ment in the host country and acceptance of the new family reality (Marchetti-
Mercer, 2012; Miltiades, 2002; Sun, 2012). It is noteworthy that, with a few
exceptions (Antman, 2010; Arenas & Yahirun, 2011; Guo et al., 2009), all
the findings regarding the psychological well-being of older adults with
migrant children derived from qualitative studies. Although these narratives
fruitfully described older adults’ perceptions toward children’s out-migra-
tion, the findings suffer from lack of quantifiable measures and comparison
626 Journal of Family Issues 39(3)
groups (i.e., those without migrant children), thus making it difficult to
determine whether the observed phenomenon were resulted from children’
emigration or other possible factors.
To the best of our knowledge, only two studies examined the issue of
parental well-being in transnational families using quantitative data (Antman,
2010; Arenas & Yahirun, 2011). Based on national surveys from Mexico,
both the studies reported poorer psychological outcomes of older adults with
offspring migrating to the United States than those who had all children
stayed in Mexico. One limitation of Antman’s (2010) study is combining
multiple indicators of psychological well-being (depression, loneliness, and
sadness) into one dummy variable. When separating the different indicators,
Arenas and Yahirun (2011) found that having internationally migrating chil-
dren was significantly related to parents’ greater anxiety, sadness, loneliness,
and wish to die, but not more depressive symptoms. This finding indicates
the necessity of examining multiple indicators of elders’ psychological well-
being in studying the impact of children’s out-migration.
A few studies also looked at the possible confounding factors that may
explain different psychological outcomes of older parents with migrant chil-
dren. Several qualitative studies suggested that older adults with better physi-
cal health and higher socioeconomic status (SES) adapted to children’s
out-migration more easily (Mazzucato, 2008; Sun, 2012; Vullnetari & King,
2008). Sun (2012) reported that loneliness was more salient among parents
who did not have children remaining in Taiwan than those who still had some
children in Taiwan. In contrast, Miltiades (2002) found that whether still hav-
ing children in the same town or in other states made no differences to Indian
parents’ depression and loneliness. Arenas and Yahirun (2011) also reported
that having internal or international migrant children was not related to par-
ents’ anxiety, depression, and wishes to die. Findings were also mixed regard-
ing whether monetary support from migrant children mattered (Guo et al.,
2009) or not (Antman, 2010) to parents’ well-being. Again, the limtations of
using qualitative data without testing possible interaction effects in most of
these studies make it difficult to draw the conclusion of why some older
adults might be more psychological responsive to children’s out-migration
than others.
Migrant Families in China
In Chinese society, for centuries, it is the cultural norm that adult children pro-
vide all forms of care to their aging parents to fulfill filial obligations. However,
the increasing population mobility of Chinese young adults makes such arrange-
ments difficult to realize. Besides the unprecedented internal migration which
Guo et al. 627
involves more than a quarter of the Chinese rural population (Guo et al., 2009),
China is a major international migrant sending country. Despite the booming
economy and governmental incentives, there is a sustained trend among Chinese
young people to stay abroad after finishing education (Kellogg, 2010). A longi-
tudinal study found that 92% of the Chinese doctoral students in Science and
Engineering still lived in the United States 5 years after graduation, as compared
with 81% among Indians, 41% among Koreans, and 32% among Mexicans
(Finn, 2010). Compared with their Western counterparts, Chinese older adults
are particularly vulnerable in the absence of children’s support given the under-
developed pension system, strong filial expectations, and norms of interdepen-
dence among family members in China (Zhang, Guo, & Zheng, 2012). With the
one child policy implemented between 1979 and 2015, the out-migration of
Chinese young adults, who are often the only child in the family, could also be
detrimental to the support system of the left-behind parents. Studies on transna-
tional families in China are nonexisting. But studies on Chinese rural migrant
families have reported strong emotional ties between migrant children and their
parents and the psychological benefits of children’s out-migration on older
adults due to improved economic conditions (Guo et al., 2009). It is not sure
whether the findings hold true for Chinese older adults in transnational families
or those who live in wealthier urban areas.
The Present Study
To address these gaps, this study examined how children’s out-migration
might affect intergenerational relations and psychological well-being of their
aging parents who stay. This study moved beyond the previous work in sev-
eral important ways. First, we used a large-scale survey (N = 550) conducted
in Beijing, China, to quantify the potential influence of children’s out-migra-
tion on their aging parents. Second, we distinguished children’s internal ver-
sus international migration, and included two comparison groups of older
adults without migrant children and older adults with both migrant and non-
migrant children to strengthen the evaluations. Third, we used multiple indi-
cators of both family relationships and psychological well-being to provide a
more comprehensive picture. Fourth, we created interaction terms in the
analysis to identify possible confounding factors that may explain why some
older adults might be more vulnerable on children’s out-migration.
Specifically, our research questions were
Research Question 1: In what ways do children’s out-migrations, internal
or internationally, affect the intergenerational relationships and psycho-
logical well-being of their aging parents?
628 Journal of Family Issues 39(3)
Research Question 2: Do children’s out-migrations have a greater impact
on the psychological well-being of older adults who have less personal
(i.e., poorer physical health, lower income) or family resources (lack of
monetary support from children, not feeling close to children)?
Purposive sampling was used to recruit older adults aged 60 years and older
in Beijing, China, who had internal or international migrant children. Older
adults without migrant children were also recruited for comparison purpose.
Recruitment sources included senior colleges (an equivalent of senior centers
in the United States), referrals from neighborhood committees, and public
areas in residential communities where older adults gathered for morning
exercises. Structured survey questionnaire was administered face-to-face by
qualified interviewers to obtain older adults’ basic sociodemographic infor-
mation, physical health, psychological well-being, and relationships with
each child. A total of 550 older adults completed the survey.
Family types was categorized in four groups based on children’s migration
status: (a) local families (i.e., all the children lived in Beijing), (b) hybrid
families (i.e., at least one child lived in Beijing and at least one child migrated,
internally and/or internationally), (c) internal migrant families (all children
lived in another/other province[s]), and (d) transnational families (all chil-
dren moved abroad). Only five older adults had both internal and internal
migrant children but no local children, and were thus combined with the
transnational family group.
Intergenerational relationships were assessed by living arrangement, fre-
quency of contact with children, instrumental and monetary support from
children, and quality of parent–child relationships. To provide a more com-
prehensive assessment of the intergenerational support available to the par-
ents and to make it possible to compare older adults of different family types,
we assessed the overall intergenerational relationships across all the children
in the family, which may include migrant children only, nonmigrant children
only, or both. Living arrangement included (a) living alone, (b) living with
spouse only, and (c) living with others (with or without spouse). Frequency
of contact and instrumental support were assessed by three dichotomous vari-
ables indicating whether the respondent had weekly in-person contact with
Guo et al. 629
any children, had weekly telephone contact with any children, and received
hands-on help with either household chores or personal care from any chil-
dren or children-in-law during the past year (1 = yes, 0 = no). Monetary sup-
port was assessed by the total amount of money that the respondents had
received from all the children in the past year. Natural log plus one of the
Renminbi value was used due to skewed distribution of this variable. Quality
of relationship with each child was addressed by the following questions: (a)
“Taking everything into consideration, how close do you feel to this child?”
(b) “How much do you feel that this child would be willing to listen when
you need to talk about your worries and problems?” and (c) “Overall, how
well do you and this child get along together?” (0 = not at all, 1 = somewhat,
2 = very; Mangen, Bengtson, & Landry, 1988). An additive score was calcu-
lated for each child, ranging from 0 to 6, with higher scores indicating closer
parent–child relationships (α = .71). The highest score across all the children
in the family was used to indicate the closest parent–child tie in the family.
Psychological well-being was assessed by depression, life satisfaction,
and worries. Depression was assessed by questions adapted from a short
form of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression scale (Radloff,
1997). The respondents rated the frequency with which they had experi-
enced the nine feelings or symptoms during the past week—happiness,
enjoyment, pleasantness, loneliness, upset, useless, nothing to do, poor
appetite, and trouble sleeping (0 = rarely or none of the time, 1 = some of
the time, 2 = most of the time). Sum scores ranged from 0 to 18, with a
higher score indicating greater depression (α = .79). The Life Satisfaction
Scale was adopted from the Satisfaction With Life Scale (Diener, Emmons,
Larsen, & Griffin, 1985), consists of seven items asking respondents
whether they agree or disagree with the following statements: better life
than most, satisfied with life, interesting life, best years of life, life meets
expectations, life is tedious, life is tiring (0 = no, 1 = yes). The sum score
ranged from 0 to 7, with higher scores reflecting more satisfied life
(α = .72). Worries were assessed by two dichotomous variables indicating
whether the respondents worried about lack of care when needed or finan-
cial difficulties (0 = no, 1 = yes), respectively.
Control variables included age (in years), gender (women = 1), education
(1 = primary school or below, 2 = high school or vocational training, and
3 = college or above), income (the natural log plus one of the total income
that the respondent and spouse, if married, had received from work or pen-
sion in the past year) and physical health, which was represented by respon-
dents’ level of difficulty (0 = no difficulty, 1 = some difficulty, 2 = cannot
perform without help) in performing 15 tasks that represented activities of
daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, and activities requiring
630 Journal of Family Issues 39(3)
physical strength, mobility, and flexibility. The summed scores ranged from
0 to 30, with higher scores indicating more functional difficulties (α = .93).
Data Analysis
Sample characteristics by family types were first presented. To address the
first research question, chi-square and one-way analysis of variance tests
were conducted to compare the four groups in their intergenerational rela-
tionships and psychological well-being. We further carried out multiple
regressions to predict depression and life satisfaction, and logistic regres-
sions to predict the two worries, respectively, using family types, while con-
trolling for sociodemographic variables and intergenerational relations. To
address the second research question, we added interaction terms between the
family types and (a) income, (b) physical health, (c) monetary support from
children, and (d) emotional cohesion with children to examine whether older
adults with fewer individual and family resources are more vulnerable with
children’s migration.
Table 1 shows the sample characteristics by family types. In this study, 102
(18.5%) older adults had all children living in Beijing (local families), 259
(47.1%) had at least one child living in Beijing and at least one migrant child
(hybrid families), 88 (16.0%) had all children living in another/other
province(s) (internal migrant families), and 101 (18.4%) had all children liv-
ing aboard (transnational families). The four groups did not differ in their
gender composition or marital status, but those in internal migrant families
were significantly younger, less educated, poorer, but healthier than the other
groups. Older adults in transnational families were best educated, the wealth-
iest, and relatively healthy. Older adults in local families had the poorest
functional health status among the four groups.
The first panel of Table 2 illustrates intergenerational relationships of the
respondents by family types. In terms of living arrangement, older adults in
transnational families (14.85%) were as likely as those in local families
(14.71%) to live alone. The most common living arrangement of both groups
was living with spouse only (72.28% vs. 67.75%). In contrast, those in inter-
nal migrant families were least likely to live alone (1.15%), and almost 84%
of them lived with someone besides their spouse, mainly with grandchildren
and/or children-in-law (not shown in the table). Not surprisingly, older adults
in transnational families had the least face-to-face contact with children
(4.95%), followed by those in internal migrant families (9.09%). Fewer older
Table1. Sample Characteristics of Older Adults in the Beijing Study by Family Types (N = 550).
Local families
(n = 102)
Hybrid families
(n = 259)
Internal migrant
(n = 88)
(n = 101) pa
Age (SD) 76.24 (7.77) 76.31 (6.95) 70.11 (8.14) 73.37 (8.01) .000
Woman (%) 55.88 53.38 56.81 48.51 .651
Married (%) 77.23 75.29 77.27 79.21 .879
Education (%) .000
Primary school or below 14.71 8.88 29.55 0.00
High school or vocational training 35.29 23.55 37.50 12.87
College or above 50.00 67.57 32.95 87.13
Annual income (Renminbi, SD) 74632.32 (30389.25) 85181.20 (62819.81) 47541.65 (31854.27) 93408.16 (48308.60) .000
Functional limitations (SD) 3.38 (5.24) 2.72 (5.28) 1.33 (2.81) 1.91 (3.08) .009
aChi-square tests for categorical variables; one-way analysis of variance tests for continuous variables.
Table 2. Intergenerational Relationships and Psychological Well-Being of Older Adults in the Beijing Study by Family Types
(N = 550).
Local families
(n = 102)
Hybrid families
(n = 259)
Internal migrant
families (n = 88)
families (n = 101) pa
Intergenerational relations
Living arrangement (%) .000
Living alone 14.71 9.73 1.15 14.85
Living with spouse only 67.65 45.91 14.94 72.28
Living with others 17.64 44.36 83.91 12.87
Seeing children weekly (%) 59.80 33.20 9.09 4.95 .000
Calling children weekly (%) 74.51 76.45 34.09 61.39 .000
Receiving instrumental support (%) 46.08 43.63 60.23 27.72 .000
Monetary support (Renminbi, SD) 4089.67 (4972.11) 15161.69 (101787.59) 3344.94 (5110.37) 6530.95 (10783.72) .423
Emotional cohesion (SD) 5.10 (1.29) 5.32 (1.01) 5.15 (1.06) 5.14 (1.34) .258
Psychological well-being
Depression (SD) 3.38 (3.24) 2.61 (2.90) 2.36 (2.40) 2.98 (3.59) .077
Life satisfaction (SD) 5.24 (1.77) 5.67 (1.54) 5.49 (1.68) 5.53 (1.80) .160
Worry about lack of care (%) 34.31 27.41 18.18 50.50 .000
Worry about financial matters (%) 17.65 9.27 19.32 10.89 .033
aChi-square tests for categorical variables; one-way analysis of variance tests for continuous variables.
Guo et al. 633
adults in transnational families (61.39%) had weekly phone calls with their
children than those in local (74.51%) and hybrid families (76.45%), but still
much more likely to do so than those in internal migrant families (34.09%).
Older adults in transnational families were least likely to receive instrumental
support from children. But surprisingly, those in internal migrant families
were most likely (60.23%) to do so, possibly due to their higher prevalence
of living with children-in-law, whose help was also counted in this study.
Examining monetary support, those in hybrid families received the greatest
amount of monetary support from children (¥15161.69), which was more
than 2 times than those in transnational families (¥6530.95), 3.7 times than
those in local families (¥4089.67), and 4.5 times than those in internal migrant
families (¥3344.94). The four groups had comparable perceived closet rela-
tionship with children.
The second panel of Table 2 compares the psychological well-being of the
four groups. Overall, the four groups had comparable levels of depression
and life satisfaction. Although those in local families had the highest level of
depression and the lowest level of life satisfaction than the rest groups, such
differences were not statistically significant. In terms of worries, older adults
in transnational families were significantly more likely (50.5%) to worry
about lack of care than the other groups. Those in internal migrant families
were least likely to worry about lack of care (18.18%), but were most likely
to report financial worries (19.32%). Older adults in hybrid families were
least likely to report worries about financial matters (9.27%).
Tables 3 and 4 present results of regression analyses predicting the four
psychological outcomes. In the regression analyses, we used dummy vari-
ables to represent education (1 = college education or above), living arrange-
ment (1 = living with others), and frequency of contact with children (1 =
weekly in-person or phone contacts) due the small cells of response catego-
ries by family types (see Table 1). In addition, for illustration purpose, we
only presented results of significant interaction terms (full tables available on
request from corresponding author).
Table 3 shows that, even when SES, physical health, and intergenerational
relations were controlled for, older adults in transnational families still had
comparable levels of depression and life satisfaction compared with those in
local families (Models 1 and 4). But such a finding was dependent on the
income and health status of older adults. Living in transnational families was
associated with a higher level of depression among older adults who had lower
income (Model 2), and both a higher level of depression and a lower level of
life satisfaction among those who had more functional limitations (Models 3
and 5). When controlling for sociodemographic, health, and family relation
variables, older adults in hybrid families had significantly lower levels of
634 Journal of Family Issues 39(3)
depression and higher levels of life satisfaction than those in local families,
and those in internal migrant families also had a significantly lower level of
depression than those in local families. A surprising finding of the Table 3 was
that older adults in hybrid or transnational families would have lower life sat-
isfaction if they receive more monetary support from their children (Model 6).
Table 3. Unstandardized Coefficients of OLS Regressions Predicting Depression
and Life Satisfaction Among Older Adults in Beijing (N = 550).
Depression Life satisfaction
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
Family typesa
Hybrid families −0.73* 0.01 −0.88* 0.45* 0.60* 1.51***
Internal migrant families −1.18* 0.08 −1.44** 0.48 0.61 0.99*
Transnational families −0.35 13.86 −1.26** 0.29 0.61* 1.42**
Age 0.01 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.00
Women 0.09 0.05 0.05 −0.14 −0.13 −0.13
Married −0.25 −0.22 −0.16 0.31 0.29 0.29
College or aboveb−0.07 −0.10 −0.07 −0.05 −0.05 −0.13
Income −0.09 0.01 −0.09 0.01 0.00 0.02
Functional limitations 0.21*** 0.21*** 0.16 −0.06* −0.03 −0.06***
Living with othersc0.07 0.04 0.09 −0.17 −0.19 −0.19
Having weekly contact
with children
−0.16 −0.09 −0.01 0.12 0.06 0.13
Instrumental support from
0.19 0.15 0.23 −0.20 −0.21 −0.19
Monetary support from
0.01 0.01 0.01 0.03 0.03 0.16**
Emotional cohesion with
−0.71*** −0.69*** −0.66** 0.42*** 0.41*** 0.40***
Significant interactionsd
Transnational families ×
Transnational families ×
Functional limitations
0.47*** −0.15*
Hybrid families ×
Monetary support
Transnational families ×
Monetary support
aReference group is local families. bReference group is high school or below. cReference group is living
alone or living with spouse only. dFor the purpose of illustration, we only listed the significant interaction
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
Guo et al. 635
Table 4 shows that when controlling for individual and family factors, all
the four groups were similarly likely to report worries about lack of care
(Model 7). But when older adults in transnational families received less
Table 4. Unstandardized Coefficients of Logistic Regression Predicting Worries
Among Older Adults in Beijing (N = 550).
Lack of care Financial matters
Model 7 Model 8 Model 9 Model 10 Model 11
Family typesa
Hybrid families −0.09 −0.57 −1.00** −21.18* −0.64
Internal migrant families −0.59 0.40 −1.39** −23.43* 1.24
Transnational families 0.57 0.48 −0.70 −9.11 2.66
Age −0.01 −0.01 −0.08*** −0.09*** −0.08**
Women 0.38 0.37 0.30 0.26 0.26
Married −0.12 −0.09 −0.19 −0.09 −0.20
College or aboveb0.11 0.09 −0.79* −0.61 −0.79*
Income −0.01 −0.02 −0.14* −2.00* −0.14
Functional limitations 0.05* 0.05* 0.10** 0.10** 0.11**
Living with othersc−0.93*** −0.99** 0.54 0.62 0.36
Having weekly contact with
−0.52* −0.57* −0.54 −0.38 −0.48
Instrumental support from
0.08 0.04 −0.55 −0.62 −0.61
Monetary support from
0.00 −0.02 −0.01 0.00 −0.02
Emotional cohesion with
−0.34*** −0.34*** −0.32*** −0.34*** −0.03
Significant interactionsd
Transnational families ×
Monetary support
Hybrid families × Income −1.84*
Internal migrant families
× Income
Transnational families ×
Emotional support
aReference group is local families. bReference group is high school or below. cReference group
is living alone or living with spouse only. dFor the purpose of illustration, we only listed the
significant interaction terms.
*p < .05. **p < .01. ***p < .001.
636 Journal of Family Issues 39(3)
monetary support from children, they were more likely to worry about lack of
care (Model 8). Predicting financial worries, we found that older adults in
either hybrid or internal migrant families were significantly less likely to
have such worries compared with those in local families when individual and
family factors were controlled for (Model 9). But again, such a finding was
dependent on the income of older adults—those with lower income in both
types of the families were more likely to worry about financial matters
(Model 10). Interestingly, having close relationships with children, instead of
receiving monetary support from them, was associated with less likelihood of
worrying about financial matters among older adults in transnational families
(Model 11). Last, better physical health and closer relationships with children
were significant predictors of all four outcomes.
This study examined the possible influence of children’s out-migration, both
internally and internationally, on intergenerational relationships and psycho-
logical well-being of a group of Chinese older adults in Beijing. Before com-
paring older adults with and without migrant children, it is important to note
possible predisposing factors that may have made some families migrant
families in the first place. In our study, parents in both internal and transna-
tional families were relatively healthy, with fewer functional limitations,
whereas those in local families had the highest level of functional limitations.
Older adults in transnational families also had the highest SES, with over
85% received college education or above. The better physical health and/or
greater economic resources of these older adults might have played a role in
shaping the out-migration decisions of their adult children, or enabled them
to send their children abroad in the first place. In contrast, older adults in
internal migrant families had the lowest education and income levels across
the four groups. It is likely that their children also had relatively low educa-
tion attainment, and therefore moved to other cities to seek for employment
opportunities that are not available or popular in Beijing’s competitive labor
markets. Overall, these findings point to the different self-selection effects of
internal versus international migration among Chinese urban families. The
different socioeconomic profiles of older adults in the two groups also influ-
ence how they experience children’s out-migration.
A major concern of studies of aging parents with migrant children is
changes to the living arrangement and available support to the parents. Our
findings partially supported such a concern, but again depending on the type
of migration. Children’s international migration has a more profound impact
on living arrangement and practical support available to older adults than
Guo et al. 637
children’s internal migration, evidenced by the highest prevalence of living
with spouse only, worrying about lack of care, and the lowest prevalence of
receiving instrumental support from children among older adults in transna-
tional families. In contrast, a sizable share of older parents in internal migrant
families still lived with grandchildren and/or children-in-law and they were
actually most likely to receive instrumental support from offspring and lest
likely to worry about lack of care among the four groups. We speculate that
migrant children in these families left their own children and/or spouse in
Beijing so that their children could access the rich educational recourses in
Beijing and their spouse could help take care of the aging parents. Thanks to
the children who remained in Beijing, older adults in hybrid families were
almost as likely as those in local families to receive instrumental support
from children, and were actually less likely to worry about lack of care.
Overall, the finding suggests that having some or even all children migrated
internally does not necessarily lead to a collapse of the support network of
aging parents, but having all children moving abroad did impair the available
support to the parents.
Besides instrumental support, we found that in-person contact was com-
promised by geographic distance in both types of migrant families, but mon-
etary and emotional support from children remained comparable in these
families as those in local or hybrid families. The findings are consistent with
previous studies on both internal or international migrant families, which
similarly reported that family ties maintain strong over distance, even across
national boundaries (Baldassar, 2007; Baldock, 2000; Guo et al., 2009). It is
worth mentioning that although older adults in internal migrant families were
about half as likely as other groups to have weekly phone calls with children,
they might have maintained contact with migrant children via coresiding
grandchildren or children-in-law.
Examining the psychological well-being of older adults of different family
types, our findings suggest that the vulnerability assumption of aging parents
with migrant children might have been overstated. Starting with possibly the
most vulnerable group—older adults in transnational families—both the
bivariate and multivariate analyses showed that even without their health and
SES advantages, these older adults still fared similarly well as those in local
families on measures of depression and life satisfaction. The fact that most of
the migrant children in this study have migrated quite a while ago may con-
tribute to such a finding. A closer examination of the data showed that on
average the migrant children migrated 17 years ago (ranging from 3 to 38
years, SD = 6 years; not shown in the tables). The intense feelings associated
with children’s out-migration might have abated over time. In addition,
migration is often a family decision. If the child’s international migration was
638 Journal of Family Issues 39(3)
encouraged or even planned by the parents to help the child achieve better
opportunities of education, employment, or quality of life overseas, the
migration is not necessarily associated with poorer parental well-being.
Actually, it was reported that children’s successful settlement or accomplish-
ment in the new country may even bring a sense of pride or fulfillment to
their parents (Marchetti-Mercer, 2012).
Turning to older adults in internal migrant or hybrid families, we found
that when SES, psychical health, and intergenerational relations were taken
into consideration, these older adults actually would have significantly lower
depression and/or greater life satisfaction than those in local families. These
findings likely point to the inherently poorer mental health status of those in
local families, which may have inhibited their children from out-migration.
The findings may also reflect the resilience of older parents with migrant
children. On children’s out-migration, aging parents may rebuild or rearrange
social relations both within and beyond the family spheres. The alternative
social relations and support may help buffer the potential negative conse-
quences of children’s out-migration (Levitt & Jaworsky, 2007).
However, having comparable levels of depression and life satisfaction
does not mean children’s out-migration has no impact on parental well-being.
It does, as reflected by different experiences of worries across the four groups.
As reported earlier, older adults in transnational families were most likely to
worry about lack of care, which was largely attributive to not living with oth-
ers but the spouse and lacking alternative support besides the spouse. In con-
trast, those in internal migrant families were most likely to worry about
financial difficulties, possibly due to their lowest levels of education and
income. The mixed findings regarding depression/life satisfaction versus
worries suggest that these indicators of psychological well-being may be of
different natures and may be affected by children’s out-migration in different
ways. Whereas depression and life satisfaction often reflect overall assess-
ment of imminent life conditions, worries present concerns about negative
events that might happen in the future (Borkovec, Ray, & Stober, 1998).
Although the higher SES and better physical health of those in transnational
families may make them fairly content with their current lives, having no
children around to take care of them when needed was a real concern for near
future. Similarly, for those in internal migrant families, having other family
members living nearby or together may protect them from having higher
depression or lower life satisfaction, but their limited economic resources
may still trigger worries of financial matters in the future. These findings
reveal that, despite similar levels of depression and life satisfaction, chil-
dren’s out-migration, either internally or internationally, still present a risk
factor of the psychological well-being of aging parents in the long run.
Guo et al. 639
Our findings also showed that the influence of children’s out-migration is
more detrimental on aging parents who have limited individual or family
resources. Six out of the nine significant interaction terms were found within
transnational families. Children’s international migration would be associ-
ated with either higher depression, low life satisfaction, or more worries of
financial matters if older adults in these families had lower income, poorer
physical health, or poorer relationship with children. Monetary support from
children seems to have a mixed effect on the well-being of older adults in
transnational families. On the one hand, with more monetary support from
children, older adults would be less likely to worry about lack of care. It is
possible that such support may help ease the concerns of paying for the
expensive long-term care services in Beijing, which might be needed in the
future. On the other hand, children’s monetary support was related to lower
life satisfaction, suggesting that financial support does not necessarily benefit
the psychological well-being of these relatively privileged older adults. Such
a finding held true for older adults in hybrid families as well, who had simi-
larly higher SES. The possible ambivalent feelings associated with children’s
monetary support may point to the higher expectations on the emotional,
instead of monetary aspect of intergenerational relations among these rela-
tively wealthy older adults. Last, higher income would help ease worries
about financial difficulties among older adults in both internal migrant and
hybrid families, both of whom had relatively lower SES.
Finally, this study revealed that physical health and emotional cohesion
with children were consistently associated with all four outcomes. The find-
ing demonstrates the crucial role of good physical health in maintaining later
life psychological well-being. Previous studies on worries in later life have
consistently reported that health-related issues were the most frequent sources
of worries among older adults (Hunt, Wisocki, & Roger, 2009). Whereas
good health indicates perceived control over one’s own life, functional
impairments often lead to loss of independence, social isolation, reliance on
others for support, and increased costs of care. In contrast, close relationships
with children not only help buffer existing stressful events among the aging
parents but may also provide the older adults with a sense of assurance,
knowing that when help with personal care or financial matters is needed,
their children can be called on and be a reliable source of support.
This study has several limitations. The sample site of Beijing is unique. As
the center of higher education in China, Beijing homes more than 80 colleges
and universities. Many older adults in our study were retired professors or
even academicians, and thus were very well educated and highly privileged.
The findings may not speak to the experience of older adults in less devel-
oped urban areas or rural areas, or of less educated older populations in
640 Journal of Family Issues 39(3)
China. Convenience sampling also limits the generalizability of the findings.
As a sizable proportion of our sample were recruited from senior colleges or
community centers where older people went for morning exercises, our sam-
ple was overall a group of relatively active older adults. The voices of those
who lived in institutional settings, who were more physically and emotional
needy, and who were more isolated were thus not fully represented in this
study. Future studies should make effort to recruit these subpopulations. It
should also be noted that the overall intergenerational relationships across
multiple children in the family were assessed in this study in order to make it
possible to compare different types of families. Future studies shall discern
the variations in relations with migrant versus nonmigrant children and their
relative influences on parental well-being. In addition, it is difficult to estab-
lish causal relationships given the cross-sectional designs. It is likely that
older adults of different psychological well-being interacted with children in
different ways. Longitudinal studies that capture family dynamics before, on,
and after children’s migration would be most useful to address our research
Nonetheless, this study contributes to the knowledge of family dynamics
and later life well-being in the context of migration by providing a nuanced
picture of the lives of older adults with internal and/or international migrant
children. So how does children’s out-migration affect these aging parents?
Our results indicate both vulnerability and resilience of these older people.
Although contact and support that are based on direct interactions were com-
promised, family ties maintained strong over distance. Unexpectedly, older
adults in different migrant families did not fare less well than those in local
families in depression and life satisfaction. But in the long run, absence of
children would take its tolls on these older people by elevating concerns of
care and financial matters. Those who had less personal or family recourse
were particularly vulnerable with children’s out-migration. Interestingly, older
adult with both migrant and nonmigrant children (i.e., those in hybrid fami-
lies) tend to have overall favorable ratings of both intergenerational relations
and psychological well-being. It seems these older adults benefited from such
mixed family structures of having both close-by and distant family ties.
Findings of this study have important implications for future research.
Through a more nuanced approach, our findings show that the negative con-
sequences of adult children’s out-migration might have been exaggerated in
previous studies. As Levitt and Jaworsky (2007) stated, transnational migra-
tion studies need to be more neutral or positive than negative. This study also
demonstrates that internal and international migrations may respond to dif-
ferent needs of different types of families. Future studies need to further
investigate such diversities among the “left-behind” populations. While the
Guo et al. 641
findings of this study likely speak to the longer term influence of children’s
out-migration on later life well-being, future studies shall explore the more
immediate impact by focusing on older adults who recently have children
migrated. Longitudinal studies are also needed to investigate the adjustment
these older adults go through, along with their own aging process. It is also
important to focus on more vulnerable older adults, such as the widowed, and
those who require a lot of care. Last, multisite probability samples would
provide a more complete picture of the experience of older adults with
migrant children.
Our findings are helpful to inform the development of policies and pro-
grams that seek to promote the well-being of older adults in migrant sending
areas. As shown, worries about lack of care were prevalent among these older
people. Providing alternative care options such as building dedicated and
conveniently located community caregiving centers is needed. It is particu-
larly important for community professionals to help fragile elders in transna-
tional families to remain connected with their existing network and cultivate
resources embedded in those networks. Even with established formal sup-
port, relationship with adult children will continue to play a pivotal role in the
well-being of older adults and such support cannot be replaced by formal care
from the government or communities. Efforts should thus be made to con-
tinually promote family values among migrant children.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publi-
cation of this article.
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Although aging and migration are major global demographic trends, little attention has been given to the health and well-being of immigrants who migrate later-in-life. Drawing on the social convoy perspective, we examine the social impact of late-life migration and explore patterns of human service provision among late-life immigrants in a midwestern U.S. region. Using qualitative data (N = 71)—in-depth interviews and focus group discussions— from diverse key informants, including late-life immigrants and local human service providers, our study attempts to expand the knowledge base on late-life migration and garner community-generated solutions for the well-being of this unique population.
Background and Objectives Studies have shown that neighborhood environment shapes older Americans’ aging experience and health. However, it remains largely unknown whether and how neighborhood environment influences the wellbeing of older Asian Immigrants. Guided by the neighborhood stress process model, this study aims to investigate 1) the associations between neighborhood environmental stressors and depression among Chinese older immigrants, and 2) the potential mediation effects of intrapersonal (sense of mastery, sense of hopefulness) and interpersonal coping (social engagement) resources in such associations. Research Design and Methods This study analyzed data collected from 2,801 Chinese older immigrants in the greater Chicago area. Structural equation modeling (SEM) with bootstrap resampling was used to fit path models on neighborhood environmental stressor, intra- and interpersonal coping resources, and depression. Results Findings showed that neighborhood social disintegration and physical disorder were associated with more depressive symptoms directly and indirectly via lower intra- and inter-personal coping resources. Specifically, older immigrants living in neighborhoods with greater social disintegration reported lower sense of mastery and social engagement, which in turn were associated with more depressive symptoms (partial mediation). Older immigrants living in neighborhoods with greater physical disorder reported lower sense of hopefulness and mastery, which subsequently were associated with more depressive symptoms (full mediation). Discussion and Implications The findings showed that neighborhood environmental stressors are risk factors for mental health of older Chinese immigrants and coping resources may serve as pathways of the associations. The implications for future research and practice were discussed.
Despite a recognition of religion as a resource for coping in later life, few studies have examined how religion is summoned to cope with the stressors of late-life immigration. Drawing upon data generated in a phenomenological study of the aging-out-place experience, this article presents a hermeneutic analysis of textual extracts addressing 10 Sri Lankan-born late-life immigrants’ Buddhist beliefs and practices, and how these beliefs and practices contributed to coping with immigration stressors. Four shared experiences facilitated through religious engagement were revealed: religious engagement as a source of purpose, making meaning of suffering and experiencing hope, non-attachment, and connecting to the past and the ethnoreligious community. Late-life immigrants drew on religious engagement to remain resolute amidst adversities, thus reinforcing the importance of culturally responsive milieus and services to support religion-focused coping. Findings are interpreted in relation to Pargament’s (1997) theory of religious coping.
Aims and objectives: The study aimed to explore the perspectives of adult children about late-life living and care arrangements for their ageing immigrant parents living in New Zealand. Background: Older immigrants' well-being is closely associated with filial relations and is often reliant on families as a main source of social, financial and emotional support. Research among migrant Asian adults has reported mixed findings regarding intergenerational perspectives of filial practices. Design: Qualitative design using focused ethnographic lens. Methods: Semi-structured individual interviews were undertaken with 45 adult children of older immigrants living in New Zealand to explore their views about filial piety. The CoREQ checklist was used in reporting methods and findings. Results: Two major themes were identified in this study of adult children's view of filial piety and late-life care for their ageing parents. The first theme, 'holding on-reconfiguring values', referred to a process described by the participants as upholding the core values and cultural familial expectations, looking after their ageing parents, yet modifying the ways in which they provide care. The second major theme 'letting go-reconfigured expectations', described participants' views of aged care for themselves, which meant they no longer held traditional values that needed to be enacted by their children. Conclusions: Adult children from immigrant families were positioned as intermediaries of these shifting values of their own and within younger generations. The adult children's shift of thinking and acceptance of reconfigured expression of filial duties impact care and living arrangements of older people from immigrant and culturally diverse backgrounds, which also influences health and well-being in later life. Relevance to clinical practice: Healthcare professionals including nurses working in the ageing and aged care sector need to accommodate the changing generational perspectives about filial piety to cater to the unique late-life care requirements and health needs of older people and their families.
Objectives This study examines (1) the overall structures of multifaceted coping resources, that is, coping repertoires, among Chinese older immigrants in the United States, (2) the optimal coping repertoire that is associated with best psychological outcomes of these older immigrants, and (3) the most effective coping repertoire in different adversities. Method Using data from 2,923 Chinese older immigrants in Chicago, Latent Class Analysis (LCA) was performed to identify the overall coping repertoires of U.S. Chinese older adults. Negative binomial and logistic regressions were used to examine associations between coping repertoires and depression and Quality of Life (QoL), respectively. We further tested whether coping repertories moderate the relationships between adversities in health, economic, and social domains, and the two psychological outcomes. Results LCA revealed four types of coping repertories: low-resource (43%), spouse-oriented (32%), community-oriented (15%), and multi-source coping (10%). Overall, Chinese older immigrants who had the multi-source coping repertoire reported the best psychological outcomes. The community-oriented and multi-source coping repertories had significantly stronger buffering effects on psychological well-being among individuals with IADL difficulties or low acculturation. However, spouse-oriented coping intensified the association between ADL difficulties and depression, and community-oriented coping intensified the association between poorer subjective health and lower quality of life. Conclusion This study revealed overall low coping repertories of Chinese older immigrants, suggesting the most optimal coping repertories should consist of both intrinsic and extrinsic coping sources. The findings further show that relying on limited sources might be harmful to older immigrants’ mental health.
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The rapid aging of the immigrant population in the United States has drawn increasing scholarly attention to studying the kinship support networks of older immigrants. Despite the common stereotype of older immigrants as passive dependents of their families and the receiving society, this review highlights their active negotiations of ties to adult children as they manage family relations and secure old‐age support. After a brief description of the demographic profiles of the older immigrant population in contemporary United States, this article shows how international migration challenges the patterns and power dynamics of two major aspects of intergenerational relationships in adulthood—intergenerational exchanges and intergenerational conflicts. By presenting the diversity and variations of intergenerational relations in aging immigrant families, the author argues that research on older immigrants' family relations holds great potentials to contribute to the literature on immigration, family, and aging studies.
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Objectives: Guided by the stress and coping theory, this study provides a systematic review of existing research on acculutration, family support, and social support related correlates of depression among older Chinese and Korean immigrants in the United States. Method: A comprehensive literature search was conducted in CINAHL Plus, Abstracts in Social Gerontology, AgeLine, Social Work Abstracts, PubMed, PsychINFO, and Social Science Citation Index databases to identify relevant articles that presented multivariate analysis results. Results: A total of 55 articles were identified, with the vast majority focusing on older Korean immigrants. The overall evidence showed that length of residence was largely unrelated to depression, and poor Enligsh proficiency also had a weak correlation with depression. However, a low level of acculturation measured by multidimensional scales was consistently associated with more depressive symptoms. Overall, living arrangements and the size and frequency of contact of both kin and non-kin networks were weak correlates of depression. In contrast, negative family and social interactions seem to be more consequential for depression in the two groups than positive relations and support. Conclusion: The findings show that established acculturation instruments are useful tools to identify at-risk older Chinese and Korean immigrants. Future studies need to further examine which aspects of acculturation experience are more influential for immigrants’ mental health. Although often conceptualized as important coping resources, family and social networks could present significant stressors for older immigrants. Future research and services could focus on these contexts to improve the mental health of these two rapidly increasing Asian populations.
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Relying on a purposive sample of 550 Chinese older adults in Beijing, China, this study examined the potential influence of children’s out-migration, internally or internationally, on intergenerational relationships and parental well-being. By comparing older adults in nonmigrant, internal migrant, transnational, and hybrid (have both migrant and nonmigrant children) families, we found that children’s out-migration only compromised intergenerational contact and instrumental support, but not monetary or emotional support. Older adults of different family types had similar levels of depression and life satisfaction. Those in internal migrant families were most likely to report financial worries, and those in transnational families were most likely to worry about lack of care. The influence of children’s out-migration was further confounded by parents’ coping resources. The findings suggest that the vulnerability of the “left-behind” elderly might have been exaggerated. Future studies shall distinguish different types of migration and the diversity among older adults with migrant children.
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This study explored whether and how family relationships and social connections influence depressive symptoms of older migrants and older adults in transnational families using the data gathered from a cross-sectional survey in Los Angeles, California, United States, and Beijing, China. Regression results showed that the older migrants reported significantly higher levels of depression than the elders in transnational families. The findings highlight the importance of maintaining close family relations and having large friendship networks for older adults in international migrant families.
This paper considers whether the health of elderly parents is adversely affected by the international migration of their children. Estimation of a causal effect is complicated by the fact that children may migrate in response to a parent's health status and there may be other unobserved factors influencing both parental health and child migration. I address this endogeneity problem by using instrumental variables methods where I instrument for having a child in the U.S. with the sex and married ratios of the children of the elderly respondents. To ensure the instruments are not influencing elderly health directly, I include children's contributions to their parents in the analysis. I also perform falsification tests which support the view that the causal mechanism is operating through children's migration. Overall, the evidence suggests that having a child migrate to the U.S. raises the probability that the elderly parent in Mexico will be in poor physical health. I conclude by exploring the possibility that the deleterious effects of children's migration on mental health are driving this relationship.
The past two decades have witnessed a sea change in migration scholarship. Most scholars now recognize that many contemporary migrants and their predecessors maintain various kinds of ties to their homelands at the same time that they are incorporated into the countries that receive them. Increasingly, social life takes place across borders, even as the political and cultural salience of nation-state boundaries remains strong. Transnational migration studies has emerged as an inherently interdisciplinary field, made up of scholars around the world, seeking to describe and analyze these dynamics and invent new methodological tools with which to do so. In this review, we offer a short history of theoretical developments, outlining the different ways in which scholars have defined and approached transnational migration. We then summarize what is known about migrant transnationalism in different arenas - economics, politics, the social, the cultural, and the religious. Finally, we discuss methodological implications for the study of international migration, present promising new scholarship, and highlight future research directions.
Background. There is little empirical evidence on the effects of social connectedness on geriatric depression for Southeast Asians. Studies have rarely examined interethnic differences in the resilience factors for depression in this diverse population. Greater understanding is needed as the number of older Southeast Asians in the United States increases. Objectives. We sought to examine the association between social connectedness and depressive symptoms in Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian elders. Methods. Using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, bilingual/bicultural staff collected demographics, the Lubben Social Network Scale, and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). Univariate and multivariate regression models were constructed for the full aggregated sample and for each ethnic subgroup. Results. In the full aggregated sample analysis, Southeast Asian elders were at increased risk for depression and had low social connectedness. Marriage and English proficiency were resilience factors, whereas social connectedness did not play a significant role. In disaggregated analyses, high social connectedness, marriage, and younger age were resilience factors for Vietnamese elders. English proficiency was the only significant resilience factor for Laotians, and age at the time of immigration was the only significant resilience factor for Cambodian elders. Conclusions. This study underscores the need for researchers to disaggregate data for ethnic subgroups in the Asian American population. Southeast Asian elders are at increased risk for depression and have low social connectedness. There exist important interethnic differences in resilience factors for geriatric depression, suggesting the need for more studies and interventions that are sensitive to subtle cultural differences among Southeast Asian subgroups.
Background: Considerable research has documented that exposure to traumatic events has negative effects on physical and mental health. Much less research has examined the predictors of traumatic event exposure. Increased understanding of risk factors for exposure to traumatic events could be of considerable value in targeting preventive interventions and anticipating service needs. Method: General population surveys in 24 countries with a combined sample of 68 894 adult respondents across six continents assessed exposure to 29 traumatic event types. Differences in prevalence were examined with cross-tabulations. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to determine whether traumatic event types clustered into interpretable factors. Survival analysis was carried out to examine associations of sociodemographic characteristics and prior traumatic events with subsequent exposure. Results: Over 70% of respondents reported a traumatic event; 30.5% were exposed to four or more. Five types - witnessing death or serious injury, the unexpected death of a loved one, being mugged, being in a life-threatening automobile accident, and experiencing a life-threatening illness or injury - accounted for over half of all exposures. Exposure varied by country, sociodemographics and history of prior traumatic events. Being married was the most consistent protective factor. Exposure to interpersonal violence had the strongest associations with subsequent traumatic events. Conclusions: Given the near ubiquity of exposure, limited resources may best be dedicated to those that are more likely to be further exposed such as victims of interpersonal violence. Identifying mechanisms that account for the associations of prior interpersonal violence with subsequent trauma is critical to develop interventions to prevent revictimization.