Internal migration toward siblings in later life
preprintposted on 28.06.2021, 08:25 by Alyona Artamonova, Brian Joseph Gillespie
Research on the role of siblings in older adult migration lags behind a growing number of studies on adult children as a mobility attraction. We attend to this gap by examining (i) to what extent the absence of partners and/or adult children influences older adults’ (age 70-84) migration toward faraway siblings (at least 50 km away) and (ii) how these migrations are patterned by the location of other family members (children, other siblings, and nephews/nieces). We use multinomial logistic regression models and analyze dyads of older adults and all distant siblings from the Swedish population register data between 2012 and 2016 (N = 1,743,234). We control for several characteristics of the study population that may impact the decision to move closer, including sociodemographic characteristics and measures of location-specific capital. Widowed, divorced, and never married older adults were more likely to move closer to distant siblings than the partnered. Not having children was associated with a higher likelihood of moving toward a sibling. Living near adult children or other siblings deterred relocation toward siblings, while family clustered at a distance reinforced the location’s attractiveness for migration. As declines in fertility broadly reflect people’s decisions to have fewer children or forego having families, siblings might emerge as a vital source of support. Our research indicates that siblings can be a destination for migration and, therefore, should be considered as important members of social networks of older adults, especially those who do not have partners and/or adult children available.