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With declining adherence to filial piety in East Asian cultures, the closeness of adult daughters rather than sons may become more important for older Asian immigrants’ well-being. With a sample of 177 older Korean immigrants to the United States (age 60+, M = 72, SD = 7.7), we examined how and to what extent having daughters living nearby rather than sons (daughters-in-law) is related to older Asian immigrants’ mental health, moderating the direct relationship between stressful life events and depressive symptoms. The analyses showed physical proximity of daughters rather than sons (daughters-in-law) functioned as a stress buffer by reducing the direct relation between stressful life events and older immigrants’ depressive symptoms. The findings suggest that gendered cultural expectations of adult children’s caregiving roles for older Korean immigrants are changing, implying that companionship and the perceived quality of instrumental and emotional support might take priority over traditional gendered expectations of filial piety.


Originally published in Journal of Family Issues, Volume 38, Issue 16.