No Spouse, No Son, No Daughter, No Kin in Contemporary China: Prevalence, Correlates, and Differences in Economic Support

Zhangjun Zhou, Ashton M. Verdery, Rachel Margolis, Feinian Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

China's recent demographic and social changes might undermine the sustainability of its family-oriented system for elder care. We investigate kin availability among adults aged 45+ in contemporary China, with an emphasis on child gender. Method: Using nationally representative survey data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (2011), we examine the prevalence and correlates of lacking different kin types and combinations, and we test associations between kin availability and received economic support. Results: Kinlessness is low in China (less than 2% lack a spouse/partner and children), but kin availability is patterned by gender, age group, and sociodemographic characteristics. More than twice as many older adults have no spouse/partner and no daughter (3.2%) as those who have no spouse/partner and no son (1.4%). Adults without close kin are disadvantaged across health, wealth, and economic support. In contrast to traditional expectations, we find that those with only daughters are more similar to those with mixed sex children, whereas those with only sons are more similar to those without children in receipt of economic support. Discussion: Access to kin forms the basis of an emergent system of stratification in China, which will be amplified as cohorts with only one child age into older adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1453-1462
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume74
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 4 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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