Volume 43 - Article 11 | Pages 285–314  

Attitudes and preferences towards future old-age support amongst tomorrow’s elders in China

By Min Qin, Jane Falkingham, Maria Evandrou, Athina Vlachantoni

This article is part of the Special Collection 28 "Life-Course Decisions of Families in China"


Background: The life course experiences of those born in China from the late 1950s to early 1970s have been very different to those of their predecessors; they may not be able to, or wish to, rely on their family for support in later life in the future.

Objective: We investigated the attitudes towards current provision of old-age support and preferences for their future old-age living arrangements amongst individuals aged 40‒55, representing the next generation of China’s older people.

Methods: Using data from the 2013 Chinese Household Finance Survey, we made multi-variate analyses focussed on understanding the roles of family structure, socioeconomic status, and current patterns of intergenerational support in shaping attitudes and preferences towards old-age support among today’s mid-lifers.

Results: Attitudes and preferences towards old-age support are shaped by relations within the family, which in turn are affected by broader historical and contemporary social, economic, and cultural conditions. Specifically, the number of children, having a son, Hukou status, and education influence people’s attitudes and preferences. The results also point to important gender and cohort differences. One unexpected finding is that around a quarter of Chinese mid-life women living in urban areas and with just one adult child are actively considering the option of institutional care for their own old age, highlighting that social norms around care in later life are shifting.

Contribution: This study advances understanding of how decisions in old-age care relate to individuals’ life course and to changing family structures in China.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Gender Inequalities in Employment and Wage-earning among Economic Migrants in Chinese Cities
Volume 34 - Article 6

Old age insurance participation among rural-urban migrants in China
Volume 33 - Article 37

The changing determinants of UK young adults' living arrangements
Volume 25 - Article 20

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