Separated kin: location of multiple children and mental health trajectories of older parents in rural China
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Objective: This study examines the longitudinal association between the location of multiple children and depressive symptoms of older parents in rural China, where massive rural-to-urban migration has profoundly altered the family life of the aging population. Methods: Using seven waves of panel data from the Longitudinal Study of Older Adults in Anhui Province (2001-2018, N = 8,253) and multilevel growth curve models, this study compares mental health trajectories of old parents across different compositions of local and migrant children over an 18-year time period. Results: The results show that older parents with a greater share of adult children who had migrated away not only scored worse mental health on average, but also experienced a more rapid increase in depressive symptoms across ages, after accounting for other covariates. Further, older adults who had their most children migrated away for a longer period of time suffered from the steeper rate of increase in depressive symptoms as they got older. Conclusions: We suggest that it is not the geographic locality of a single child but the location of multiple children that matters for parental mental health in later life.
This is the accepted version of the manuscript and is embargoed until December 25, 2022. Final published version available at https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2021.2019191.
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