Gender and Intergenerational Exchange in Vietnam
Although both women and the elderly are assumed to be disadvantaged in much of the world, systematic empirically based studies of interactions between gender and aging are rare. We examine the gender dimensions of elderly support and economic well-being in Vietnam based on data from the 1999 3% census sample and two regional surveys of the elderly conducted in 1996 and 1997. The study incorporates both descriptive and multivariate analysis of sources of support including work, non-familial support, and especially familial support through intergenerational exchange, the most import source for most elderly Vietnamese. We consider the gender of both the recipient and provider of support. Vietnam provides a particularly interesting context for the study given substantial regional cultural differences in the extent of the patriarchal/patrilineal family systems. These differences are most readily apparent in the wide regional variation in preferences of elderly to reside with married sons rather than married daughters. The receipt of intergenerational transfers, the most important form of elderly support in Vietnam shows little significant variation across gender once the mediating effect of marital status differences is taken into account. In addition, gender differences in economic well-being, as measured by an index of household wealth and through self-perceptions of economic satisfaction, are very modest once other factors, most notably marital status and age, that are correlated both with gender and the receipt of familial and non-familial support are taken into account.