The “Great Migration” and Mental Health of the Left-behind Elderly: Bringing in Urbanization and Community Perspectives

Qian Song, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)

More than ever intensified rural-urban labor migration coupled with prolonged life expectancy in developing countries poses serious threat to the welfare of the elderly in China. Utilizing a nationally representative survey covering a wide range of information on social relationships, daily activities of older adults population and community characteristics, results show that having migrant children, especially an inter-provincial one is negatively associated with mental wellbeing of the elderly, and this possible adverse effect is even stronger in rural communities below the poverty line. Community services and facilities cannot even explain the disparity between the psychological wellbeing of the left-behind elderly across communities of different wealth. Some tentative explanations are further proposed.

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 Presented in Session P4. Children and Youth/Population and Aging