The Importance of Understanding Kinship Structures and Kinlessness for Left Behind Older Adults in Puerto Rico.

Amílcar Matos Moreno (Pennsylvania State University)
Department of Digital and Computational Demography, June 26, 2024

Hybrid Seminar Talk, June 26, 2024 from 11am to 12pm (CEST)

Amílcar Matos Moreno (Pennsylvania State University) will talk about the Importance of Understanding Kinship Structures and Kinlessness for Left Behind Older Adults in Puerto Rico.


Outmigration profoundly impacts the health and well-being of older adults who remain in communities of origin – the so-called “left behind”. Evidence suggests that left-behind older adults are predisposed to increased levels of depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and poor physical health due to familial separation, changes in social network structures, increased social isolation, and absence of instrumental support. As in many migrant-sending societies, Puerto Rico faces substantial challenges owing to rapid population aging and pressures on its family networks because of outmigration. Most outmigrants from Puerto Rico are young adults, which means that ever-larger cohorts of people will enter older adulthood without the dense family networks that have traditionally been a mainstay of social support in this and many other contexts. How do aging older individuals in Puerto Rico fare in such circumstances? At the onset of the current migration wave, approximately 33% of Puerto Rican older adults report living alone, and 48% of older adults have at least one adult-child residing out of Puerto Rico. Likewise, even as other Caribbean and Central American societies face similar issues stemming from high rates of out-migration, Puerto Rico presents a particular case. Given that Puerto Ricans are citizens by birth, it is possible that migrants can easily return for short visits, resettle, or engage in circular migration patterns. Though an increasing number of studies have demonstrated important links between smaller local social networks and well-being in various global contexts, no one has (1) assessed the prevalence, predictors, or consequences of this phenomenon in Puerto Rico or (2) how it compares to other migrant-sending contexts. This talk is an overview of ongoing work to disentangle the pathways through which migration of family members affect the health and social context of older adults in sending countries.


Amílcar Matos Moreno is a Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Healthy Aging at the Pennsylvania State University and an Associate Professor at the Carlos Albizu University, specializing in rapid population aging, migration, psychosocial determinants of health, social networks, and kinship.

Dr. Matos-Moreno’s research focuses on migration and the health of left behind older adults. He is working on several research projects relevant to (1) how migration of adult children impacts the health of left behind older adults, (2) the impact of migration on social support and social networks, (3) transnational family networks, and (4) how countries aged due to increased migratory patterns. He began his scientific journey with a highly relevant publication on “Migration as the driving force of rapid aging in Puerto Rico: A Research Brief”, published on the journal Population Research & Policy Review and featured in national news outlets. Since the first publication, he has focused his research projects on studying the many pathways through which migration impacts health in Puerto Rico and other countries. In 2022, he became a National Institute on Aging Buttler-William’s scholar, which recognizes upcoming junior researchers within the aging research community in the United States. 

He received his Ph.D. in Social Epidemiology from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a Postdoctoral fellowship in Family Demography from the Pennsylvania State University. He also possesses a B.A in Social Research Methods and an MPH in Biostatistics from the University of Puerto Rico. Dr. Matos-Moreno’s work has been funded by the U.S Army, Rackham Merit Fellowship, the Global Alliance for Training in Health Equity Research at Drexel University, and several grant mechanisms within the National Institute on Aging: T32 Predoctoral Award, Postdoctoral Diversity Supplement, K01 career development award, among others.

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Amílcar Matos Moreno (Pennsylvania State University) will talk about the Importance of Understanding Kinship Structures and Kinlessness for Left Behind Older Adults in Puerto Rico.

Date: Jun 26, 2024
Time: 11 am (CET)

Please register via this survey to participate online. The Zoom link will then be sent to you.

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