Living Arrangements of the Elderly in China: Evidence from CHARLS

Xiaoyan Lei, Peking University
John Strauss, University of Southern California
Meng Tian, Peking University
Yaohui Zhao, Peking University

Declining fertility in China has raised concerns about elderly support, especially when public support is inadequate. However, using rich information from the nationally representative CHARLS baseline survey, we find that roughly 40% of Chinese elderly live with a child; living with a male child being strongly preferred. Another 35% have a child living in the same neighborhood and 14% in the same county; only 6% have the nearest child living outside the same county as the parent and another 5% have no living children. Among non-co-resident children, those living close by visit their parents more frequently and have more communications by phone, email, text messages and regular mail. On the other hand, children who live farther away are more likely to send financial and in-kind transfers and send larger amounts. Children thus substitute amongst themselves between providing support to parents in the form of time versus money.

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Presented in Session 44: Living Arrangements and the Elderly in Developing Countries