2009 Volume 81 Issue 1 Pages 47-59
In developing countries, the impact of migration on elderly care is often perceived to be negative, as young adults who migrate for labor or other reasons leave their elderly parents behind in backward villages. We argue that such a loss-of-care effect can be compensated by the income transferred from the migrant children to their elderly parents. Based on the 2004 General Social Survey in China (CGSS04), we studied both the effect of migration on income transfer to the elderly and the impact of migration on the overall wellbeing of the elderly in rural areas. Regression results show a strong enhancing effect of interprovincial migration on the income transfer to the elderly, increasing both the odds of a significant transfer by 67% and the overall amount by nearly 30%. The elderly in households with interprovincial migrant children were found more likely to be satisfied economically than those in households without any migrant children. The difference between the overall satisfaction of the two household types was found to be very little, however, indicating that the negative and positive effects of temporary migration were more or less balanced. The policy implication is that the overall wellbeing of the elderly in backward regions, especially in migration-sending areas, can be greatly improved if elderly care is community-based.