Can China’s Rural Elderly Count on Support from Adult Children? Implications of Rural-to-Urban Migration

  • John GilesEmail author
  • Dewen Wang
  • Changbao Zhao


This paper shows that the family continues to be an important source of support for the rural elderly, particularly the rural elderly over 70 years of age. Decline in likelihood of co-residence with, or in close proximity to, adult children raises the possibility that China’s rural elderly will receive less support in the forms of both income and in-kind instrumental care. While descriptive evidence on net-financial transfers suggests that elderly with migrant children will receive similar levels of financial transfers as those without migrant children, the predicted variance associated with these transfers implies a higher risk that elderly who have migrant children could fall into poverty. Reducing the risk of low incomes among the elderly is one important motive for new rural pension initiatives supported by China’s government, which are scheduled to be expanded to cover all rural counties by the end of the 12th Five Year Plan in 2016.


Ageing Elder support Intergenerational transfers Migration China. 
JEL Codes : J14 O12 D64 H55 Q12 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Development Research GroupThe World BankWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.East Asia and Pacific Social Protection UnitThe World BankBeijingChina
  3. 3.Research Center for the Rural EconomyMinistry of AgricultureBeijingChina

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