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How Does Internal Migration Affect the Emotional Health of Elderly Parents Left-Behind?

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  • Scheffel, Juliane
  • Zhang, Yiwei

Abstract

The ageing population resulting from the one-child policy and the massive 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 first two waves of 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 by applying fixed-effects and instrumental variable regressions which both identify the effect based on different sources of variation. We find that migration significantly reduces overall life-satisfaction by 8.8 percent and leads to an 8.7 (12 percent) percent higher probability of suffering from depressive symptoms (loneliness). Emotional health outcomes drastically deteriorate with reduced emotional support. In contrast to other developing countries, remittances cannot buffer the negative effects of emotional health. As emotional health is a key determinant of the overall health status, our findings have significant impacts for rural areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Scheffel, Juliane & Zhang, Yiwei, 2016. "How Does Internal Migration Affect the Emotional Health of Elderly Parents Left-Behind?," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145663, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc16:145663
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    3. Benxi Lin & Yu Yvette Zhang, 2019. "The Impact of Fiscal Subsidies on the Sustainability of China’s Rural Pension Program," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(1), pages 1-7, December.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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