Migration and health at older age in rural Malawi

Jacob Kendall, Philip Anglewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The connection between migration and health has long been established, but relatively little is known about this relationship for older persons, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In this paper, we examine migration selection with regards to health status among older individuals in Malawi, by testing whether older migrants differ from non-migrants in health status before migration. To do so, we use data from the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health, a longitudinal panel dataset that includes a relatively large number of individuals at older ages. We focus on three measures: mental health, physical health, and HIV status. We find that the relationship between migration and health selection differs by gender. Older women who are HIV-positive are nearly 10 times more likely to migrate compared to their HIV-negative counterparts. For men, those with better mental health are less likely to migrate in the future. These results suggest that, although research in some settings shows that migrants have better health before moving, some older migrants have worse health than their non-migrant peers, and may, therefore, add to the already-heavy burden on rural health centres in Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1520-1532
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal public health
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 3 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Malawi
  • Migration
  • ageing
  • health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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