Gubernskaya, Zoya*, and Zequn Tang
Older immigrants are more likely to share residence with their adult children and other family members than are U.S.-born older adults. Because socioeconomic factors only partially explain these differences and direct measures of cultural preferences are seldom available, the persistently high rates of intergenerational coresidence among the older foreign-born are often interpreted as driven by cultural preferences and/or a lack of assimilation. To challenge this interpretation, this study investigates the extent to which older immigrants’ living arrangements deviate from those of older adults in their home countries. The analysis combines data on immigrants from the 2008–2012 American Community Survey (ACS) with census data from three major immigrant-sending countries: Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam. Despite persistent differences from U.S.-born whites, coresidence in later life is significantly less common than in the sending countries among the older foreign-born who migrated as young adults, and especially among those who migrated as children. The older foreign-born who migrated after age 50, however, are more likely to coreside and less likely to live independently than the older adults in their home countries. The similarity of these patterns across the three immigrant subgroups suggests that the unusually high coresidence among late-life immigrants is driven by U.S. family reunification policy and not simply by cultural influences.
* Denotes CSDA Associates, Affiliates, and Staff