Research on population aging generally focuses on a particular elderly population in a specific location. However, a growing literature on transnationalism emphasizes that for immigrant populations, societies of origin and settlement are linked through a dense web of economic, cultural, and political connections. While these connections hold the potential to powerfully shape aging on both sides of the border, the relationship between migration and aging remains understudied. This paucity of information is particularly problematic in the case of Latin American migration to the United States, due to rapid population aging and high levels of need on both sides of the border.
Despite the importance of population aging in both Latin America and among U.S. Latinos, and continuity and scope of migration flows from Latin America (particularly Mexico) to the United States, there is limited understanding of the link between immigration and aging in the Americas. While an extensive body of literature has examined the impact of emigration and migrant remittances on the educational attainment of younger generations, how these forces shape the process of aging in Latin America remains understudied. Survey data in Mexico suggests a high degree of elderly dependence on economic and instrumental support from kin. Emigration among younger generations is likely to alter this dependence in important ways, by reducing elders’ sources of instrumental support and potentially enhancing sources of financial support. Whether and how Latin American elderly are affected by migration is thus a key research concern, and the overarching objective of this pilot is to develop a larger project on transnational aging in the Americas. With prior funding, we collected 300 surveys of Latino immigrants in Philadelphia, PA. This data will provide important insights into the nature of transnational elder care from the perspective of immigrant-receiving communities. The current proposal aims to collect data on the link between migration and aging from the Mexican side of the border, and to test the feasibility of methods to directly link migrant sending and migrant receiving contexts. Accordingly, my specific aims are to:
1) Assess how caregiving for elders is distributed across family members in Mexico, and how this dynamic is shaped by migration
2) Explore how Latin American elderly cope with diminished social support following the emigration of close family members
3) Examine how the availability of financial support shapes elderly access to healthcare and health outcomes.
4) Investigate gender disparities in transnational aging. Both migration and caregiving are highly gendered, necessitating explicit attention to how the link between migration and elder care differs for male and female elderly, and for male and female migrants.
5) Test the feasibility of strategies designed to connect elders in Mexico to their kin residing abroad.