Title

How do Living Arrangements and Intergenerational Support Matter for Psychological Health of Elderly Parents? Evidence from Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

7-2015

Abstract

Living arrangements and family support for older persons have become an increasingly important policy concern in developing and rapidly aging Asia. Formulating a sound elderly care policy for the region will benefit from empirically examining how living arrangements, particularly coresidence, and intergenerational exchanges of financial, instrumental, and emotional support are associated with old-age psychological health. This study analyzes data from nationally representative aging surveys in Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand for 2011-2012 to offer a comparative perspective from Southeast Asia where various kinship systems coexist. Results suggest that coresidence with a child of culturally preferred gender significantly improves the emotional health of Vietnamese and Thai elders but with different implications. In Vietnam, living with a married son is more beneficial to parents' psychological wellbeing than living with other children. In Thailand, coresidence regardless of the child's gender improves old-age psychological wellbeing but living with a daughter brings greater benefits than living only with son. Evidence points to the importance of understanding the dominant kinship system that may shape normative filial expectations and gender role expectations within the family. In Vietnam and Thailand, the positive association holds even after intergenerational support is controlled, suggesting that the value of culturally preferred coresidence goes beyond practical functions. In Myanmar, there are almost no significant differences in psychological wellbeing among elderly across various living arrangements, except between coresidence and network living arrangements. For all settings, we do not find evidence in support of network family arrangements as a complete substitute for coresidence in terms of promoting old-age psychological wellbeing after filial support is controlled. Our study highlights important cultural nuances for theorizing the nature of the relationship between living arrangements and old-age psychological health, and presents the important need for more rigorous investigation of the causal links between these two phenomena in future research.

Keywords

Coresidence, Elderly, Intergenerational support, Living arrangements, Psychological wellbeing, Southeast Asia

Discipline

Asian Studies | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Medicine and Health | Sociology

Research Areas

Sociology

Publication

Social Science and Medicine

Volume

136-137

First Page

106

Last Page

116

ISSN

0277-9536

Identifier

10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.05.019

Publisher

Elsevier

Additional URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.05.019