Intergenerational support among widowed older adults in China

Zhenmei Zhang, I-Fen Lin


With the rapid aging of the Chinese population, growing attention has been given to old-age support. Widowed older adults constitute a particularly vulnerable population because the loss of a spouse can lead to financial hardships and emotional distress. We used data from the 2002 Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey to examine multiple dimensions of old-age support among a nationwide sample of widowed old adults ages 65 and older (N = 10,511). The results show that Chinese widows and widowers rely heavily on their adult children, particularly sons and daughters-in-law, for financial, instrumental, and emotional support. Widowed older adults’ needs and the number of children are the most significant predictors of old-age support. Widowed older adults with multiple marriages have a lower likelihood of receiving financial assistance, sick care, and emotional support from their children compared to their counterparts who have married only once. There appears to be same-gender preference in adult children’s care for their widowed parents with disabilities.


financial transfer; coresidence; emotional support; caregiver; marital history, daughters-in-law; gender; CLHLS

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