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Aging, Well-Being, And Social Security In Rural North China


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  • Dwayne Benjamin
  • Loren Brandt
  • Scott Rozelle


We explore the economic position of the elderly in rural North China. In particular, we examine the work patterns and incomes attributable to the elderly, and explore the role of extended families in protecting the welfare of the elderly. Our objective is to document the channels by which private, family-based social security exists in rural China. Drawing upon a 1995 household survey, as well employing household surveys from 1935 and 1989 as benchmarks, we show that extended families, while still important, play a smaller role than in the "glory days" of extended families. We also show that urban-rural distinctions in terms of the role of the family are not very important. The primary difference is that the urban elderly live in higher income households, to some extent because of their more generous state-funded pensions. The main conclusion from our analysis is that the rural elderly merit considerably more attention than has been paid to them, and that it would be unwise to assume that "filial piety" will guarantee the living standards of elderly in rural areas.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number benjamin-98-01.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 09 Sep 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:benjamin-98-01

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  1. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1996. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 5572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1995. "Measuring Poverty Among the Elderly," NBER Working Papers 5296, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Deaton, A. & Paxson, C.H., 1990. "Patterns Of Aging In Thailand And Cote D'Ivoire," Papers, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies 148, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  4. Benjamin, Dwayne & Brandt, Loren, 1997. "Land, Factor Markets, and Inequality in Rural China: Historical Evidence," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 460-494, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Giles, John & Wang, Dewen & Zhao, Changbao, 2010. "Can China's rural elderly count on support from adult children ? implications of rural-to-urban migration," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5510, The World Bank.
  2. Dwayne Benjamin & Loren Brandt & Jia-Zhueng Fan, 2003. "Ceaseless Toil? Health and Labor Supply of the Elderly in Rural China," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-579, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Loren Brandt & Dwayne Benjamin, 1999. "Markets and Inequality in Rural China: Parallels with the Past," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 292-295, May.
  4. Chen, Jing & Rozelle, Scott, 2003. "Market Emergence And The Rise And Fall Of Backyard Hog Production In China," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) 21969, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  5. Alan de Brauw, 2003. "Are Women Taking over the Farm in China?," Department of Economics Working Papers, Department of Economics, Williams College 2003-02, Department of Economics, Williams College.


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