Living arrangements and care provision among the oldest old people in China, 1998--2002

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Janet M. Wilmoth


Living arrangements, Care provision, Oldest old, China

Subject Categories

Demography, Population, and Ecology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Using data from Determinants of Healthy Longevity in China (DHLC) 1998-2002, this study examines three aspects of living arrangements and care provision of the oldest old Chinese: distribution and determinants, transitions, and psychological well-being outcomes.

The results indicate that living with one son and reliance on family care are still common experiences among the oldest old people in China. Coresidence is closely related with family care. Both sick care and financial support are stable with children in the household or in close proximity. The patrilineal stereotype of children is still deep-rooted particularly in rural China. Sons play a much more important role than daughters in co-residential and family care arrangements.

The findings of the longitudinal analysis reveal that living with children and reliance on family care are the most stable eldercare arrangements among very old adults. Comparatively, individuals living alone (or with a spouse only) or living with others are likely to make adjustments in residential and care arrangements in later life. Surprisingly, transitions in living arrangements are not significantly associated with changes in care provision.

The analyses of psychological well-being outcomes show that living with children and family care do not lead to better psychological well-being than the other eldercare arrangements. The psychological well-being of older Chinese is more affected by individuals' socioeconomic resources and health conditions than by living arrangements and care provision. Living with children is still important for rural older people to maintain their psychological well-being, whereas being financially autonomous is beneficial for psychological well-being of urban oldest old people.


Open Access