European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 141–151 | Cite as

Bequest motives of older people in rural China: from the perspective of intergenerational support

  • Quanbao Jiang
  • Xiaomin Li
  • Marcus W. Feldman
Original Investigation


China, a society long characterized by traditional Confucianism and the practice of filial piety, is undergoing dramatic socioeconomic development and erosion of traditions. In this rapidly changing context, the motives behind rural parental bequests have not been well studied. This paper draws on a survey conducted in rural Anhui province of China and uses hierarchical linear models to examine whether three kinds of support from children are associated with older parents’ bequest motives. We find that while instrumental support accords with an exchange model of motivation, financial transfer is consistent with an altruistic motivation for parental bequest plans. Offspring gender is strongly associated with parental planning of bequests; family division is a strong correlate of parents’ bequest plan and reflects exchange motivation. These findings have important implications for research on traditional culture and an evolving social security system.


Financial support Instrumental support Emotional support Family division Filial piety Gender 



This work is jointly supported by the key project of the National Social Science Foundation of China (14AZD096) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China(71273205). We would like to thank to the Editor and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Population and Development StudiesXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Morrison Institute for Population and Resource StudiesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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