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Self-Rated Health and the “First Move” Around Retirement: A Longitudinal Study of Older Americans

Authors


  • For further information, contact: Nan E. Johnson, PhD, Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, 316 Berkey Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824-1111; e-mail: johnsonn@msu.edu

  • This research was funded by a Hatch Act grant from the US Department of Agriculture to Project MICL01874, Nan E. Johnson, Principal Investigator. Isabel Ayala, Lynn Cossman, Stephen Gasteyer, Kenneth Johnson, and Maryhelen MacInnes constructively commented on earlier drafts. The author is solely responsible for any errors. For further information, contact: Nan E. Johnson, PhD, Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, 316 Berkey Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824-1111; e-mail: johnsonn@msu.edu.

Abstract

Purpose: I examine whether less favorable self-rated health raises the risk of outmigration more for young-old adults (aged 53-63 at the start of the 10-year longitudinal study in 1994) in nonmetro than metro counties and increases the odds that both groups of outmigrants will choose metro over nonmetro destinations. Finally, I examine whether nonmetro outmigrants are more likely than metro outmigrants to cite a health concern or a desire to get closer to relatives or friends as a reason for the migration.

Methods: I use the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to track the main residences of nonmetro and metro older adults from 1994-2003. With a discrete-time Event History Analysis, I assess the joint effects of nonmetro/metro residence in 1994 and self-rated health (updated at each biennial wave) upon the risk of a first migration. Those who migrated were asked to recall why.

Findings: At worse levels of self-rated health, the odds of remaining in a nonmetro county of residence drop in favor of migrating to another nonmetro county. Among migrants, the worse the self-rated health, the higher the odds of within-type migration (nonmetro-nonmetro and metro-metro) over cross-type migration (nonmetro-metro and metro-nonmetro). The percentages of migrants citing a health concern or a desire to live closer to relatives or friends as a reason for migration do not differ by county type of origin.

Conclusions: An implication for rural health policy is that young-old adults with worse self-rated health tend to remain in nonmetro areas, even when they migrate.

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