How Do Living Arrangements and Intergenerational Support Matter for Psychological Health of Elderly Parents? Evidence from Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand

Bussarawan Teerawichitchainan, Singapore Management University

We analyze data from nationally-representative aging surveys in Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand for 2011-2012. Results suggest that coresidence improves the emotional health of Vietnamese and Thai parents but with different implications. While living with married son is strongly and positively associated with psychological wellbeing in Vietnam, living with married daughter benefits the mental health of elderly Thais. Evidence points to the importance of understanding the dominant kinship system that shapes normative filial expectations and gender relations within the family. In these two countries, the positive association holds regardless of intergenerational support. In Myanmar, coresidence is beneficial to psychological wellbeing only to the extent that it facilitates intergenerational support. While our findings add cultural nuances needed to comprehensively theorize the relationship between living arrangements and old-age psychological health,we recognize that causality is difficult to infer given the nature of the datasets and that our study speaks to the need for comparative longitudinal data to address this research topic.

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Presented in Session 162: Aging in Lower and Middle Income Countries