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Economic transition and new patterns of parent-adult child coresidence in Urban China


Department of Sociology, 140 Prospect Street, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520 (


This study uses national data from the 1996 Life History and Social Change in Contemporary China survey (N= 3,087) to gauge the effect of the economic transition on parent-adult child coresidence in urban China. Previous studies find that, thanks to state actions, traditional patterns in coresidence persisted in post-Mao urban China. This study still finds high levels of coresidence. China's aging population, coupled with an underdeveloped social security system, means that the traditional role of family will remain strong. It also uncovers three new patterns, however, best explained as caused by changes in the economic realm. First, the coresidence pattern changes over parents’ life course, shifting from child-centered to parent-centered as parents age. Second, class differentials begin to emerge, most notably seen in the unique patterns of the entrepreneurial class. Last, gender differentials remain significant, but the tilt toward sons has strengthened.