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Does it matter where the children are? The wellbeing of elderly people ‘left behind’ by migrant children in Moldova


This paper empirically evaluates the wellbeing of elderly individuals ‘left behind’ by their adult migrant children in Moldova. Using data from a nationally representative household survey conducted in 2011–12 in Moldova, the wellbeing outcomes of elderly individuals aged 60 and older with and without adult children living abroad are compared (N = 1,322). A multi-dimensional wellbeing index is constructed on the basis of seven indicators within four dimensions of wellbeing: physical health, housing, social wellbeing and emotional wellbeing. Probit regressions are used to predict the probability of an elderly individual being considered well in each indicator and then on total index level. The results reveal that elderly persons with an adult migrant child have a higher probability of being well in one physical health indicator. Following correction for the selectivity of migration using an instrumental variable approach, however, the migration of an adult child is no longer found to predict significantly the wellbeing of their elderly parents in any dimension, suggesting that migration bears limited consequences for elderly wellbeing.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Jennifer Waidler, Maastricht Graduate School of Governance/UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University, Boschstraat 24, 6211 AX, Maastricht, The Netherlands E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
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