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