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Coresidency, Ethnicity, and Happiness of China's Rural Elders


  • Connelly, Rachel

    () (Bowdoin College)

  • Iannotti, Michael

    (Bates College)

  • Maurer-Fazio, Margaret

    () (Bates College)

  • Zhang, Dandan

    () (Peking University)


As China moves into the ranks of aged societies, coresidency of elders with their adult children has become an increasingly important policy concern. This article utilizes data from the 2000 Population Census of China and the 2011 Chinese Household Ethnicity Survey (CHES) to analyze coresidency patterns of rural elders in seven Chinese provinces with high concentrations of ethnic minority populations. We also explore one consequence of coresidency, reported happiness. We find that socioeconomic variables matter in the determination of coresidency in China in ways that are very similar to their roles in other countries. However, changes between 2000 and 2011 in the effects of age and widowhood show that coresidency decisions among rural elders provinces are transitioning from child-centric to parent-centric. Our analysis also reveals the large role cultural norms play in determining coresidency, as evidenced by differences across ethnic groups. The CHES data allow us to compare coresidency across ethnicity with respect to both individual and regional degrees of assimilation versus isolation. Elders who do not speak Mandarin have higher rates of coresidency than those who do. Additionally, those who live in counties with low rates of intermarriage and intergroup friendships are also more likely to coreside. In exploring the determinants of happiness, we find again that socioeconomic and demographic conditions matter, as does ethnicity. Controlling all else, coresidency increases the happiness of the elderly by about 28 percent. Moreover, the unobserved characteristics that drive coresidency are highly detrimental to the happiness of the elderly.

Suggested Citation

  • Connelly, Rachel & Iannotti, Michael & Maurer-Fazio, Margaret & Zhang, Dandan, 2014. "Coresidency, Ethnicity, and Happiness of China's Rural Elders," IZA Discussion Papers 8194, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8194

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Terence C. Cheng & Nattavudh Powdthavee & Andrew J. Oswald, 2017. "Longitudinal Evidence for a Midlife Nadir in Human Well‐being: Results from Four Data Sets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(599), pages 126-142, February.
    2. Lei, Xiaoyan & Strauss, John & Tian, Meng & Zhao, Yaohui, 2011. "Living Arrangements of the Elderly in China: Evidence from CHARLS," IZA Discussion Papers 6249, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Hau Chyi & Shangyi Mao, 2012. "The Determinants of Happiness of China’s Elderly Population," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 167-185, March.
    4. Terza, Joseph V. & Basu, Anirban & Rathouz, Paul J., 2008. "Two-stage residual inclusion estimation: Addressing endogeneity in health econometric modeling," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 531-543, May.
    5. Senik, Claudia, 2011. "The French Unhappiness Puzzle: The Cultural Dimension of Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 6175, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Connelly, Rachel & Maurer-Fazio, Margaret & Zhang, Dandan, 2014. "The Role of Coresidency with Adult Children in the Labor Force Participation Decisions of Older Men and Women in China," IZA Discussion Papers 8068, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Teerawichitchainan, Bussarawan & Pothisiri, Wiraporn & Long, Giang Thanh, 2015. "How do living arrangements and intergenerational support matter for psychological health of elderly parents? Evidence from Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 136, pages 106-116.

    More about this item


    global life satisfaction; Minzu; ethnicity; happiness; coresidency; elders; living arrangements; China Household Ethnicity Survey; China;

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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