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Informal care provision across multiple generations in China

With increasing life expectancy, changes in family structure and, most recently, the relaxation of the hitherto strict family planning policies, understanding how mid-life individuals support multiple generations, particularly their older parents and younger grandchildren, is of increasing research and policy significance in China. This paper analyses data from the 2011 China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) to examine the characteristics of Chinese mid-life individuals aged 45–64 who are potentially being ‘sandwiched’ between providing care to older parents/parents-in-law and/or younger grandchildren (under age 16). Binary logistic and multinomial regression models shed light on the factors associated with providing support to one generation or multiple generations. The results highlight that amongst the Chinese mid-life sandwich generation, 58 per cent only provide care to their young grandchildren, 23 per cent only provide care to their parents/parents-in-law, whilst 15 per cent are simultaneously supporting both generations. Rather than acting as competing demands upon the mid-lifers’ time, the multivariate analysis provides evidence that the provision of intergenerational care is complementary, with caring for grandchildren increasing the probability of also supporting one's parents/parents-in-law, and vice versa. However, an increase in the number of younger grandchildren has a negative impact on the care provided to older parents/parents-in-law, indicating that at higher care intensities there may be competing demands across the generations.

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Type of Reference
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Journal article
Cambridge University Press
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Ageing and Society
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