Care for grandchildren and psychological well-being of older parents in rural China

Lu Song, Soochow University

Using data from the baseline and follow-up surveys of “Well-being of Elderly in Anhui Province, China” conducted in 2001 and in 2003 respectively by the Institute for Population and Development Studies of Xi’an Jiaotong University, this paper used multiple regression to estimate the effects of care for grandchildren on psychological well-being of the grandparents. The results showed that care for grandchildren directly improved grandparents’ psychological well-being, and among which the gender of grandparents or children played important roles. Controlling for the out-migration of children and intergenerational supports, we found grandparents providing grandchild care to sons had better psychological well-being, which suggested that traditional “son preference” norm had an effect on psychological well-being of the grandparents. Care for daughters’ grandchildren improved the psychological well-being of grandfathers, but not of grandmothers, which suggested that altruistic support had a protective effect on the grandfathers’ psychological well-being, while grandmother benefited more from reciprocity between generations.

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Presented in Session 9: Prospects for the family support of older people and their implications