Living Alone and Living with Children: The Living Arrangements of Canadian and Chinese-Canadian Seniors
Living arrangements have the potential to tell us far more than simply who lives with whom. Whether a senior lives alone, with a spouse, or with children will provide potentially distinct social support possibilities. From a policy perspective, the particular mix of these living arrangements also provides clues to the need for formal services. While work has been done on how income, gender and age shape the living arrangements of Canadian seniors, relatively little research has explored how ethnicity, language skill and immigration status further mediate living arrangements. Given the future combination of population aging and continued shifts in the source and type of immigration to Canada, additional research on how ethnicity and factors associated with immigration affect living arrangements is also warranted. In this paper I explore the relationship between characteristics of Canadian seniors and their living arrangements. Ethnicity and immigration are further explored by focussing on the living arrangements of Chinese-Canadian seniors. Data for Canadians aged 55 and older from the 1996 individual census Public Use Microdata File (PUMF) (n=159,361), General Social Survey Cycle 11 (GSS11) (n=12,756) and National Population Health Survey (NPHS) (n=13,363) were used in this analysis. Logistic regressions using the PUMF and GSS11 data suggest that while personal income and characteristics of immigrants play important roles in encouraging living alone among older Canadians, their effects do not nullify the role of culture among Chinese- Canadian seniors. Importantly, these effects vary substantially by gender and age. These findings underscore the heterogeneity of Canadian seniors, which is often overlooked in the design and delivery of services to this segment of the population.
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