• depression;
  • intergenerational support;
  • gender differences;
  • rural China;
  • social selection process

Cong Z, Silverstein M. Parents' depressive symptoms and support from sons and daughters in rural China

Int J Soc Welfare 2011: 20: S4–S17 © 2011 The Author(s), International Journal of Social Welfare © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and the International Journal of Social Welfare.

This investigation examined how initial levels of elder parents' depressive symptoms influenced financial, instrumental, and emotional support from sons and from daughters in rural China. Data were derived from a two-wave (2001, 2003) longitudinal survey of 1,324 parents aged 60 and over living in rural areas of Anhui Province, China. Structural equation modeling with latent difference score was used to estimate the reciprocal relationships between children's support and elder parents' depressive symptoms. Results showed that older parents who had higher levels of depressive symptoms at baseline experienced reduced financial, instrumental, and emotional support from sons, but not from daughters. In rural China where the patrilineal family system has distinguished sons and daughters with respect to their functions in elder parents' support networks, the roles of sons and daughters warrant further examination, particularly when elder parents have some depressive symptoms, that elevate the needs of the parents and puts a strain on intergenerational relationships.