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Intergenerational exchange, internalization of responsibility or altruism: the impact of grandchild care on the elderly’s intention for old-age support

TAO Tao1,2 LIU Wenli3 SUN Mingtao3

(1.Population Development Studies Center of Renmin University of China)
(2.School of Social Construction Studies of Renmin University of China)
(3.School of Sociology and Population Studies, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872)

【Abstract】Using data from China Longitudinal Aging Social Survey in 2014, this paper examines the elderly’s intention for old-age support, the intergenerational relationship and the effects of grandchild care. The results are as follows. First, there exists selectivity in the care for grandchildren. The elderly who feel closer to their children are more willing to provide care for grandchildren. Second, grandchild care also affects the relationship between the elderly and their children in turn. As the intensity of care increases, the conflicts between the elderly and their children are increasing. However, these short-term conflicts will not significantly affect the elderly’s intention for old-age support. Third, grandchild care will affect the elderly’s intention for old-age support. Compared with those who provide low-intensity care, the elderly who provide high-intensity care are more likely to live with their children in the future. This suggests that the grandchild care is more of intergenerational exchanges and family responsibilities than a completely altruistic behavior. Finally, intergenerational relationship has no significant mediating or moderating effect on the influence of grandchild care.

【Keywords】 grandchild care; intergenerational relationship; intention for old-age support; intergenerational exchange; mediating effect;


【Funds】 The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, and the Research Funds of Renmin University of China (14XNI003).

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    [1]. ① Because of the characteristics of personality of the elderly in China and the traditional idea that “dirty linen should not be washed in public,” they are generally unwilling to express their dissatisfaction with their children in the survey. Therefore, the elderly who choose the options of never, occasionally and sometimes may not necessarily have substantial differences. However, choosing the option of often means to a large extent that there is a relatively large conflict between generations. Although the overall proportion of the elderly who choose this option is low, there are significant differences among different categories, which is the focus of Table 2. [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 11-1489/C

Vol 42, No. 05, Pages 56-67

September 2018


Article Outline


  • 1 Research background
  • 2 Literature review
  • 3 Data and variables
  • 4 Empirical analysis
  • 5 Summary and discussion
  • Footnote