Demographic transition, family change and elderly poverty: China 2002-2005

Juhua Yang, Renmin University of China

Using panel data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey and qualitative data collected in six provinces in 2007, this paper explores the relationship between demographic transition, family change and social poverty (defined as poor health and loneliness) of the elderly ages 65+ in the context of rapid socioeconomic transformation in China. Model results indicate that different dimensions of family change bear diverse consequences on health and loneliness. While varying across the urban-sex elderly groups, the proportion of elderly in household tend to be unrelated to health, but increase the risk of being frequently lonely; similarly, living alone of the elderly is related to a poorer health and frequent loneliness. Our findings also suggest that these patterns might be intervened by the availability of public support system. Given China’s tradition of family support for the elderly and the elderly preference for such channel of support, family-based community support system should be vigorously promoted and implemented.

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Presented in Session 105: Family, health and well-being of older people in poorer countries