Intergenerational Support and Depression Among Elders in Rural China: Do Daughters-In-Law Matter?


University of Southern California, Davis School of Gerontology, 3715 McClintock Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90089-0191 (


This study examined the influence of intergenerational assistance with household chores and personal care from sons, daughters, and daughters-in-law on the depressive symptoms of older adults in rural China. The sample derived from rural Anhui Province, a region with a strong hierarchy of support preferences that leads with sons and their families. We used data from a random sample of 1,281 adults aged 60 and over, who were interviewed in 2001 and 2003. Analyses indicated that depressive symptoms were usually reduced by assistance from daughters-in-law and increased sometimes when such support was from sons. These relationships held most strongly when mothers coresided with their daughters-in-law. This research suggests that the benefits of intergenerational support are conditional on culturally prescribed expectations.