Intergenerational Transfers in Rural Chinese Families: A Corporate Model of Exchange across Three Generations

Merril Silverstein, University of Southern California
Shuzhuo Li, Xi'an Jiaotong University
Wenjuan Zhang, Xi'an Jiaotong University

This investigation studied whether childcare provided by older grandparents to their grandchildren was reciprocated in the form of three types of support from adult children: financial, instrumental, and labor to the family farm or business. Data came from a 2001 survey of 1,421 grandparents aged 60 years and older living in rural Anhui Province, China who reported about their relationships with 4,289 adult children with dependent children. Random effects Tobit models revealed that geographically more distant children reciprocated for the childcare of grandparents by providing them with financial remittances of greater value, while nearer children reciprocated by providing greater contributions of labor to family farms or businesses. After removing the suppressing effects of health, grandparents who provided more childcare received greater instrumental support from their adult children. Results support a corporate model of the traditional Chinese family in which intergenerational exchanges tend toward equilibrium and multiple family needs are met.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Aging