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


  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Dwayne Benjamin & Loren Brandt & Scott Rozelle, 1998. "Aging, Well-Being, And Social Security In Rural North China," Working Papers benjamin-98-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:benjamin-98-01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angus S. Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1992. "Patterns of Aging in Thailand and Cote d'Ivoire," NBER Chapters,in: Topics in the Economics of Aging, pages 163-206 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-1361, September.
    3. Benjamin, Dwayne & Brandt, Loren, 1997. "Land, Factor Markets, and Inequality in Rural China: Historical Evidence," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 460-494, October.
    4. Angus S. Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1998. "Measuring Poverty among the Elderly," NBER Chapters,in: Inquiries in the Economics of Aging, pages 169-204 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dwayne Benjamin & Loren Brandt & Jia-Zhueng Fan, 2003. "Ceaseless Toil? Health and Labor Supply of the Elderly in Rural China," Working Papers benjamin-03-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    2. 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 21969, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    3. Loren Brandt & Dwayne Benjamin, 1999. "Markets and Inequality in Rural China: Parallels with the Past," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 292-295, May.
    4. 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.
    5. Alan de Brauw, 2003. "Are Women Taking over the Farm in China?," Department of Economics Working Papers 2003-02, Department of Economics, Williams College.

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    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination


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