, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 23-44

Family size and support of older adults in urban and rural China: Current effects and future implications

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Change in China’s age structure is creating concerns about whether reductions in family size undermine traditional support mechanisms for older adults. Future generations may expect less support as the availability of children declines. In this article, the association between number of children and the receipt of instrumental and financial support is examined for rural and urban populations. Probabilities are modeled as bivariate probits. Coefficients are used to conduct simulations in which support is examined across hypothetical distributions of number of children. The results show that the number of children is an important determinant of support, but future reductions in support may not be as dramatic as anticipated.

This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging, Grant No. R01 AG20063-01. The authors thank the China Research Center on Aging in Beijing and the Chinese University Services Centre in Hong Kong for their assistance and the use of data; Shengming Yan for his comments on an earlier version; and three anonymous reviewers for their comments that helped to strengthen the article. An early version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, in Washington, DC, on March 30, 2001.