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Abstract

This paper describes how the composition of elderly immigrants is changing and how elderly immigrants differ from natives in terms of living arrangement and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. The determinants of living alone are investigated for 11 ethnic origin categories and natives. The analysis utilizes data from two samples of the 1990 U.S. Census: the PUMS-A 5% sample and an independent 3% sample of households containing at least one member 60 or more years of age. Between 1970 and 1990 immigrants from Asia and Latin America moved from forming a minor component of the elderly to being a significant and rapidly growing part of the elderly population which is also expanding rapidly. Elderly immigrants from developing countries have distinctly different living arrangement profiles from natives and from other immigrant elderly. They are significantly more likely to be living with children as well as with others, and distinctly less likely to be living alone or with spouse only. However, there is no single pattern for all immigrants and even within the broad categories of developing and developed origin groups there is considerable heterogeneity of living arrangements. The most important source of differences in the odds of elderly living alone is the degree of integration, indexed by English language fluency, duration of U.S. residence, and citizenship status. Economic resources also significantly influence the odds that elderly from developing countries live alone. Demographic and physical limitation factors, while important in influencing type of living arrangement in general, do not contribute significantly to immigrant group differentials in living arrangements.

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