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Location of Adult Children as an Attraction for Black and White Elderly Primary Migrants in the United States

Publication Abstract

Liaw, Kao-Lee, William H. Frey, and Ji Ping Lin. 2002. "Location of Adult Children as an Attraction for Black and White Elderly Primary Migrants in the United States." Environment and Planning A, 34(2): 191-216.

By using information on state of birth in the 1990 Census of the United States, the authors create a variable serving as a proxy for the distribution of adult children in 1985. This variable is then used in a two-level nested logit model to explain the 1985 - 90 interstate primary migration of elderly black people and elderly white people within the context of environmental amenities and other factors. The main findings are as follows. First, the location of adult children as well as environmental amenities are among the most important attractions for the primary migration of elderly black and white people. Their effects are stronger on white people than on black people. Because a relatively high proportion of out-migrated black adult children are located in the industrial states of the snowbelt and a relatively high proportion of their white counterparts are located in high-amenity states of the sunbelt, the attractions of adult children and environmental amenities are more prone to counter each other for elderly black people and to reinforce each other for elderly white people. Consequently, the net transfers of elderly primary migrants are small and somewhat oriented toward the snowbelt for black people, but they are voluminous and strongly oriented toward the sunbelt for white people. Second, the attraction of adult children is strong for not only the unmarried but also the married elderly, although it is somewhat stronger for the widowed aged 75 years and over. This finding can be taken as evidence for the viability of the 'modified extended family' system, which not only legitimizes the out-migration of adult children for career advancement but also encourages the migration of elderly parents to be close to their non-coresident children for services that require continual proximity. It also suggests that the elderly do not have a strong tendency to delay their migration toward non-coresident children until the loss of a spouse or becoming very old.

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