Ethnic Differences in Parents' Coresidence with Adult Children in Peninsular Malaysia

by Angelique Chan, Julie DaVanzo

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Data from the Senior sample of the Second Malaysian Family Life Survey are used to investigate ethnic differences in parent-child coresidence in Peninsular Malaysia. Sixty percent of Malays aged 50 or older live with an adult child (age 20+), compared with 76 percent for Chinese and 85 percent for Indians. These differences are due in part to ethnic factors that affect coresidence. For example, older Indians are in poorer health and have lower incomes and more adult children than Chinese or Malays; each of these factors is associated with higher coresidence rates. In addition, the nature of the associations of explanatory variables with coresidence sometimes varies by ethnicity, and, hence, ethnic differences in coresidence vary across population subgroups. For example, for Malays and Indians, married seniors are much less likely to coreside than their unmarried counterparts, but there is no significant difference by marital status for Chinese. Several results suggest that coresidence with adult children may be more normative for Chinese (especially those age 60+) than for Malays or Indians. On a number of dimensions that are related to parent-child coresidence (e.g., number of children, educational attainment) the relative positions of the ethnic groups are changing over time. Hence, ethnic differences in coresidence may be different in the future.

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