The relationships among family economic status, intergenerational spatial proximity and parental health - lessons from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID)

HwaJung Choi, University of Michigan
Robert Schoeni, University of Michigan
Michele Heisler, University of Michigan

1.Background/Motivation: Informal care provided by adult children is a primary care source for older adults with disabilities in US. Close residential proximity to parent/s is necessary to care for the functionally dependent parent/s. However, moving to achieve such proximity may pose both financial and non-financial burdens. At the same time, residential proximity between parent/s and a child might have been determined by health and family economic conditions during earlier life course. Little is known how intergenerational proximity has been shaped over the life-course responding to health and family economic conditions. 2.Methods: To address life course trajectory of intergenerational proximity in the association with family economic status and parental health, detailed longitudinal datasets on both parent/s and child are necessary. We exploit the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Spatial information is available at Zipcode level for both parent/s and children in HRS and at block level in PSID. Self-rated health status, ADLs and cardiovascular events are explored as health condition and health shock variables. Economic quartiles are used as family economic status. 3.Result/Conclusion: Disabilities are more prevalent among lower income older adults and informal care from children is the primary care source for these. When older adults encounter health shock, they and their children tend to move in with or move closer to each other, especially among moderate income families, women and those without spousal resources. After examining origin and trajectory of intergenerational proximity, empirical findings suggest that low-income families have greater restrictions on longer-distance residential mobility over the life-course, which is also significantly associated with parental poor health status in earlier life-course. In public health policy, burden-sharing in (informal) care might reduce mobility restrictions of potential care-givers in seeking better economic opportunities. This might be especially true for the lower-economic population.

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Presented in Session 24: Intergenerational contact and proximity