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Working Paper

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Using data from Demographic and Health Surveys, this study examines living arrangements of older adults in 43 developing countries and compares patterns by gender, world regions, and macro-level measures of socioeconomic development. Indicators include household size, headship, relationship to head, and coresidence with spouse, children, and others. Unweighted regional averages and OLS regressions determine whether variations exist. Average household sizes are large, but a substantially higher proportion of elderly adults live alone than do individuals in other age groups. Females are more likely than males to live alone and are less likely to live with a spouse or to head a household. Heading a household and living in a large household and with young children are more prevalent in African than elsewhere. Coresidence with adult children is most common in Asia and least common in Africa. Coresidence is more frequently with sons than with daughters in both Asia and Africa, but not in Latin America. Variations in living arrangements within regions are explained in part by associations between national levels of education and household structure. As a country’s level of schooling rises, most living arrangement indicators change, with families becoming more unclear. Urbanization and GNP have no significant effects on living arrangements. The associations with education may be attributable to a variety of intermediating factors, such as migration of children and preferences for privacy.