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Do Sons or Daughters Give More Money to Parents? Gender and Intergenerational Support in Contemporary Urban China

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionXie, Yu, and Haiyan Zhu. 2006. "Do Sons or Daughters Give More Money to Parents? Gender and Intergenerational Support in Contemporary Urban China." PSC Research Report No. 06-607. September 2006.

The patriarchal structure of the traditional Chinese family suggests that sons, more than daughters, provide financial support to elderly parents. However, the norm of receiving support in old age primarily from sons may have been undermined by dramatic demographic, economic, and cultural changes occurring over the last several decades in China, especially in urban areas. We examine gender differences in financial support to parents provided by children using a recent dataset (“Study of Family Life in Urban China") collected in 1999 in three cities, Shanghai, Wuhan, and Xi’an. In our analyses, we pay particular attention to the interaction effects of gender and coresidential status. We also test three standard hypotheses for intergenerational support: the power model, the exchange model, and the altruism model. Interestingly, the results show that married daughters, especially those living with parents, provide more financial support to parents than sons do. This significant gender difference can be primarily explained by daughters’ resources, such as education and income. Our results lend empirical support to the altruism model, but not to the other two models.

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