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Childlessness and vulnerability of older people in China

Childlessness and vulnerability of older people in China
Childlessness and vulnerability of older people in China
Background: the number of childless older people is increasing in China but relatively little is known about the role of childlessness in health outcomes. This study investigates the relationship between childlessness and three health outcomes: difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living scale (IADLs), self-rated health and depression.

Methods: this study includes 13,171 individuals aged 50 and above from national survey data of the second wave of the China Family Panel Study (2012). Binary/multinomial logistic and ordinary least squares regression models are presented.

Results: childless individuals whose children have all died exhibit worse health outcomes than individuals with children, but this effect is mediated by demographic characteristics, socio-economic status and social security. While, individuals who are childless due to other reasons (involuntary or voluntary) are less likely to report difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living scale (IADLs) and to report depression than older people with all children alive after controlling for demographic and socio-economic and social security factors.

Conclusions: the death of a child has an adverse effect on people’s health for both childless people whose children have all died and those who have lost a child but have other children alive. These two groups are in the most vulnerable position which could also suggest that their children have died because they grew up in a vulnerable family. The government needs to improve the social security for these two groups and provide social services (particularly mental health services) to older people who lost a child; these could contribute to mediating some of the adverse effects of the death of a child.
childless older people, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living scale (IADLs), Self-rated health, Depression, China
0002-0729
275-281
Feng, Zhixin
33c0073f-a67c-4d8a-9fea-5a502420e589
Feng, Zhixin
33c0073f-a67c-4d8a-9fea-5a502420e589

Feng, Zhixin (2018) Childlessness and vulnerability of older people in China. Age and Ageing, 47 (2), 275-281. (doi:10.1093/ageing/afx137).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background: the number of childless older people is increasing in China but relatively little is known about the role of childlessness in health outcomes. This study investigates the relationship between childlessness and three health outcomes: difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living scale (IADLs), self-rated health and depression.

Methods: this study includes 13,171 individuals aged 50 and above from national survey data of the second wave of the China Family Panel Study (2012). Binary/multinomial logistic and ordinary least squares regression models are presented.

Results: childless individuals whose children have all died exhibit worse health outcomes than individuals with children, but this effect is mediated by demographic characteristics, socio-economic status and social security. While, individuals who are childless due to other reasons (involuntary or voluntary) are less likely to report difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living scale (IADLs) and to report depression than older people with all children alive after controlling for demographic and socio-economic and social security factors.

Conclusions: the death of a child has an adverse effect on people’s health for both childless people whose children have all died and those who have lost a child but have other children alive. These two groups are in the most vulnerable position which could also suggest that their children have died because they grew up in a vulnerable family. The government needs to improve the social security for these two groups and provide social services (particularly mental health services) to older people who lost a child; these could contribute to mediating some of the adverse effects of the death of a child.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 18 July 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 31 October 2017
Published date: March 2018
Keywords: childless older people, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living scale (IADLs), Self-rated health, Depression, China

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 415266
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/415266
ISSN: 0002-0729
PURE UUID: 22ebfa93-d821-4f08-9d10-747973bdaf44

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Date deposited: 06 Nov 2017 17:30
Last modified: 16 Dec 2019 18:40

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