How Does Adult Child Migration Affect the Health of Elderly Parents Left Behind? Evidence from Mexico
40 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010
Date Written: March 25, 2010
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.
Keywords: elderly, health, migration
JEL Classification: O15, J14, D13, I12, F22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation