Elder-care, Gender and Son Preference: The Role of Cultural Transmission and Diffusion during the Process of Rural-urban Migration in China


  • Xiaoyi Jin, PhD

Migration from rural to urban areas has emerged as a prominent feature of China's demography since the mid-1980s. A large population of rural-urban migrants is increasingly important to Chinese economic development. This project aims to analyze the effects of caregivers' out-migration from rural areas on their intergenerational relationships with family remaining in the rural areas, as well as its social implications for aging.

A sampling survey and random street interviews were conducted in Shenzhen in April, 2005, where the proportion of rural-urban migrants is the greatest in China. The results show that temporary rural-urban migration has significant impacts on the elderly relatives remaining in rural areas, generally improving their financial well-being but reducing the provision of daily care and damaging their emotional well-being. Out-migration of women could shrink the gender difference in terms of old-age support. Social networks play an important role in influencing individuals' attitudes during the rural-urban migration. The original strongly male-biased rural culture and corresponding behaviors are likely to be influenced by the host city's modern culture, which will have ramifications later for eldercare and gender issues. The talk will focus on the background of the study, research design, survey and data, main results and analysis in progress.

This project is a pilot project of the Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging, a research effort based at CHP/PCOR.