Offspring's labor migration and its implications for elderly parents' emotional wellbeing in Indonesia

Sneha Kumar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Population ageing and labor out-migration are increasingly challenging normative intergenerational support systems and familial welfare in parts of Asia. Extant studies look at how migration affects the material wellbeing of sending-households, but less is known about how migration shapes the emotional health of non-migrants as origin and destination conditions evolve. This study examines how labor migration among adult children shape the emotional health of elderly parents in Indonesia, and how observed implications are modified by alternative care arrangements and different migrant destinations. Using panel data from 2101 respondents age 50+ in the 2007 and 2014 Indonesia Family Life Survey, and individual-level fixed effects regressions, this study finds that offspring's migration is associated with increased parental depression, net of covariates. Depressive outcomes are abated if resulting care deficits are offset by co-residence or daily interactions with adult children, or if children move to economically lucrative international destinations; however, having a child in Malaysia – a destination characterized by high informal labor employment – increased parental depression. These findings draw attention to the non-economic implications of migration and the distress experienced specifically by parents who lack intergenerational support and who have concerns about child's wellbeing at destination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113832
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Asia
  • Depression
  • Elderly
  • Intergenerational support
  • Migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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