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Older parents benefit more in health outcome from daughters’ than sons’ emotional care in China

Zeng, Y., Sereny Brasher, M. D., Gu, D., Vaupel, J. W.

Journal of Aging and Health, 28:8, 1426-1447 (2016)

DOI:10.1177/0898264315620591

Abstract

Objective: To examine whether older parents in China would benefit more from daughters’ care than from sons’ emotional care. Method: Analysis of the unique data sets of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey conducted in 2002, 2005, and 2008-2009 in 22 provinces. Results: As compared with having son(s), having daughter(s) is significantly more beneficial at older ages in China, with regard to maintaining higher cognitive capacity and reducing mortality risk. Such daughter advantages in providing emotional care to older parents are more profound among the oldest-old aged 80+ as compared with the young-old aged 65 to 79 and surprisingly more profound in rural areas as compared with urban areas, even though son preference is much more common among rural residents. Discussion: We describe how educational campaigns aimed at informing the public about the benefits of daughter(s) for older parents’ health outcome could help promote gender equality and reduce traditional son preference, especially in rural China.

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