2015-12-22Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/22490
Family care-giving and living arrangements of functionally impaired elders in rural China
Humboldt Graduate School
China has seen a rapid decline of the traditional multi-generational household and an increase in rural-to-urban migration, raising concerns about a possible breakdown of the informal support system. Against this background, the paper looks at family care-giving (or the absence thereof) to parents in three different living arrangements: with any child or child-in-law (co-resident); independent with at least one child living in the same community (networked); and without any children in either the household or the community (isolated). It also compares the care-giving arrangements of single elders to those living with a spouse. The sample, which is derived from the comprehensive China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), contains data on 887 functionally impaired individuals aged 60 and above. The findings suggest that married parents are mostly cared for by their spouse, even if they co-reside with adult children. Proximity to children is particularly important for single elders, who are more likely to lack a care-giver when living independently. There appears to be a hierarchy in family care responsibilities, where children step in as care-givers only when the spouse is no longer able to fulfil this role. While these findings imply a significant deviation from traditional practices and norms of ‘filial piety’, they can be interpreted as a rational adaptation to the changed economic circumstances in rural China.
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This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.