Household Context and Subjective Well-Being among the Oldest-Old in China

Feinian Chen, Texas A&M University
Susan E. Short, Brown University

The linkage between social relations of older adults and health has been well established in the literature. Among types of social ties, the household provides a crucial context, in which household members enjoy different levels of social integration and social support. As a result, it is often found that people live in some arrangements are healthier than persons in other living arrangements. Our paper expands upon this idea to investigate the importance of household context to old age well-being in China, where the patrilocal and patrilineal extended family has been traditionally dominant. Using two waves of data from the Determinants of Healthy Longevity Survey in China (DHLC), we explore how variation in living arrangements is related to emotional health as indicated by measures of subjective well-being among the oldest-old. We are particularly interested in whether son preference in family building translates into emotional health benefits for the elder.

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Presented in Session 38: Expectations and Social Relationships