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The impact of out-migration on the inter-generational support and psychological wellbeing of older adults in rural China



This paper examines the impact of the out-migration of adult children on older parents' inter-generational support and psychological wellbeing in rural China. The sample comprised 1,237 older Chinese people aged 60 or more years in the rural province of Anhui, China, who completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires in 2001 and 2003, respectively. The differences between older parents with and without migrant children in 2001 in their support and psychological wellbeing in 2003 were examined using independent t-tests, as were changes over the two years in support and wellbeing. Multiple regression models were used to examine the impact of baseline out-migration on the psychological wellbeing of older parents at follow-up. The results showed that, compared to parents without migrant children in 2001, the parents of migrants had significantly more monetary support, less instrumental support, and a lower level of depression in 2003. Such differences may be attributed to different support resources and health status, but the regressions revealed that when the positive effect of inter-generational support was taken into account, older parents with more migrant children tended to have significantly more depression and lower life satisfaction. The findings point to the importance of continued inter-generational support after out-migration in maintaining parental wellbeing.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Man Guo, School of Social Work, University of Southern California, 669 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0411, USA. E-mail:


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