Working Paper

Alone but Better Off? Adult Child Migration and Health of Elderly Parents in Moldova


  • Heidland
  • T.
  • Persian
  • R.
  • Böhme
  • M.
Publication Date

Increasing labor migration and simultaneous aging of societies are two important demographic developments many poor countries face. Elderly people who are left behind may experience a decrease in welfare when their children migrate. This paper investigates the effect of migration on various dimensions of elderly health using unique data from Moldova, which has one of the highest emigration rates in the world. We find positive migration effects on the body mass index (BMI), mobility and self-reported health. No effects are found on depression and cognitive capacity. We trace these positive outcomes to an income effect which leads to improvements in diet and a reallocation of time use from subsistence farming to leisure and sleep. These positive effects seem to compensate the elderly for decreasing social contact with their migrant family members.

Kiel Institute Expert


JEL Classification
F22, I12, I15, J15, O15

Key Words

  • elderly health
  • international migration