Parent–child relationship typologies and associated health status among older adults in the United States and China: A cross-cultural comparison

TitleParent–child relationship typologies and associated health status among older adults in the United States and China: A cross-cultural comparison
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsKong, D, Lu, P, Wu, B, Silverstein, M
InstitutionOxford University Press
KeywordsCognition, Cultural differences, Depressive symptoms, Functional limitations, intergenerational relationship
Abstract

Background and Objectives: Cultural differences in intergenerational relationships have been
well established in prior research. However, cross-national comparison evidence on the parent–
child relationship and its health implications remains limited.
Research Design and Methods: Data from the 2014 U.S. Health and Retirement Study and the
2015 Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study in China were used (Nus, non-Hispanic Whites only =
3,918; NChina = 4,058). Relationship indicators included co-residence, living nearby, having
weekly contact, receiving assistance with daily activities, providing grandchild care, and
financial transfer to/from children. Latent class and regression analyses were conducted.
Results: Four classes were identified for non-Hispanic White older Americans: (1) distant and
uninvolved (6.58%), (2) geographically proximate with frequent contact and downward support
(47.04%), (3) co-resident with frequent contact and upward support (13.1%), and (4)
geographically proximate with frequent contact (33.28%). Three classes were identified among
older Chinese: (1) co-resident with frequent contact and upward support (37.46%), (2) coresident/interdependent (25.65%), and (3) geographically proximate with frequent contact and
upward financial support (36.89%). For non-Hispanic White older Americans, providing
downward support was associated with fewer functional limitations and better cognition.
Receiving instrumental support from children was associated with more depressive symptoms,
more functional limitations, and poorer cognition among older Chinese.
Discussion and Implications: Cultural contrasts were evident in parent–child relationship
typologies and their health implications. Compared to the U.S. non-Hispanic Whites, parent–
child relationships in China tended to be more tight-knit and associated with poorer health status. The findings call for culturally relevant strategies to improve parent–child relationships and
ultimately promote the health of older adults.

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Citation Key13986