US Migration status of adult children and cognitive decline among older parents who remain in Mexico

Jacqueline M. Torres, Oleg Sofrygin, Kara E. Rudolph, Mary N. Haan, Rebeca Wong, M. Maria Glymour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are experiencing rapid aging, a growing dementia burden, and relatively high rates of out-migration among working-age adults. Family member migration status may be a unique societal determinant of cognitive aging in LMIC settings. We aimed to evaluate the association between adult child US migration status and change in cognitive performance scores using data from the Mexican Health and Aging Study, a population-based, national-level cohort study of Mexico adults aged ≥50 years at baseline (2001), with 2-, 12-, and 14-year follow-up waves (2003, 2012, and 2015). Cognitive performance assessments were completed by 5,972 and 4,939 respondents at 11 years and 14 years of follow-up, respectively. For women, having an adult child in the United States was associated with steeper decline in verbal memory scores (e.g., for 9-year change in immediate verbal recall z score, marginal risk difference (RD) = -0.09 (95% confidence interval (CI): −0.16, −0.03); for delayed verbal recall z score, RD = -0.10 (95% CI: −0.17, −0.03)) and overall cognitive performance (for overall cognitive performance z score, RD = -0.04, 95% CI: −0.07, −0.00). There were mostly null associations for men. To our knowledge, this is the first study to have evaluated the association between family member migration status and cognitive decline; future work should be extended to other LMICs facing population aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-769
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Cognitive aging
  • Family characteristics
  • Longitudinal analysis
  • Migration
  • Targeted maximum likelihood estimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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