Background Conflicting evidence exists on whether parent or spouse caregivers experience better outcomes when caring for family members with schizophrenia. The current study aims to examine relative caregiving experiences and impacts of spouse and parent caregivers for people living with schizophrenia (PLS) in China. Methods A cross-sectional study was conducted in a sample of 264 community-dwelling primary family caregivers of PLS. Face-to-face interviews were conducted to collect information on family caregiving activities; negative caregiving impacts including objective and subjective burden, and caregiver psychological distress such as depression and anxiety; positive caregiving impacts including caregiving rewarding feelings, and family functioning for spouse and parent caregivers. Results Both types of caregivers report engaging in similar caregiving activities and report comparable levels of objective burden. However, parent caregivers report significantly higher subjective burden than spouse caregivers (b=7.94, 95%CI:2.08, 13.80, P<0.01), which is also reflected in significantly higher depression (b=3.88, 95%CI:1.35, 6.41, P<0.01) and anxiety (b=2.53, 95%CI: 0.22, 4.84, P<0.05), and lower family functioning (b=-1.71, 95%CI: -2.73, -0.49, P<0.01). Despite these differences, both groups of caregivers report comparable rewarding feelings about caregiving. Conclusions Our findings have implications for family caregivers globally, but especially for countries that adhere to Confucian cultural values and provide guidance for future family intervention programs. Such programs may do well to incorporate cultural values and beliefs in understanding caregiving and kinship family dynamics so as to support family caregivers, and in particular, the specific vulnerabilities of parent caregivers.