Abstract

Glaser K, Grundy E. Migration and household change in the population aged 65 and over, 1971-1991. International Journal of Population Geography 1998; 4: 323-339

This analysis uses the ONS Longitudinal Study, a record linkage study including individual-level data from three national Censuses (1971, 1981 and 1991) and linked vital registration data, to examine migration patterns among older people. The aims of this study are to examine regional differences in household composition, to look at changes in the relationship between household change and migration over time, and finally, to analyse the interrelationships between changes in household composition, health and migration in the 1981-91 period. An examination of changes in living arrangements by region in England and Wales between 1971 and 1991 indicates some trend towards a convergence of family/household patterns. By 1991 the majority of individuals over 75 were in solitary households, even in Wales where as recently as 1971 a larger proportion of people in this age group were living with relatives, such as married children, than were living alone. Despite these dramatic changes in the living arrangements of older people, results show that mobility among the elderly remained relatively stable between the 1971-81 and 1981-91 decades. The analysis of migration, health and household change in the 1981-91 interval shows that poor health is positively associated with the greater likelihood of changes in both living arrangements and address among people over the age of 65, in accord with hypotheses of support-related migration in old age. The extent of co-residence with kin decreased markedly in the second decade considered, but the data do not allow us to look at changes in residence near kin, which remains an important issue for future research.