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Spillover effects of children’s political status on elderly parents’ health in China
  1. Xin Zhao1,
  2. Yi Zhou2,
  3. Huaqing Tan3,
  4. Haoxiang Lin4,5,6,7
  1. 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, Beijing Hospital, National Center of Gerontology, Beijing, P. R. China
  2. 2Center for Social Research, Peking University, Beijing, P. R. China
  3. 3Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, Beijing, P. R. China
  4. 4Center for Respiratory Diseases, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing, P. R. China
  5. 5WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Cessation and Respiratory Diseases Prevention, Beijing, P. R. China
  6. 6Tobacco Medicine and Tobacco Cessation Center, China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing, P. R. China
  7. 7National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Diseases, Beijing, P. R. China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Yi Zhou, Center for Social Research, Peking University, Beijing 100871, P. R. China; yizhou{at}


Background Due to the sustained increases in life expectancy over the past half century, the elderly today will receive supports from their children for a longer period than ever before. Therefore, understanding the spillover effects of children’s socioeconomic status on parents’ health becomes increasingly important for both scholars and policy makers.

Methods The Ordinary Least Squares regression is applied to the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study 2011, a national representative dataset including approximately 10 000 households and 17 600 middle-aged and elderly respondents. The Sobel test is used to examine the mediation role of social integration.

Results The elderly who have a cadre child reported better health (coefficient=0.1347; 95% CI 0.067 to 0.202), had fewer activities of daily living (ADLs) limitations (coefficient=−0.1289; 95% CI −0.216 to −0.042) and were more socially integrated (coefficient=0.2321; 95% CI 0.103 to 0.361). Such effects are mainly driven by the parents of higher-ranking cadres. For the parents of higher ranking cadres, the Sobel test suggests that 12.6% of the total effects on self-reported health and 21.9% of the total effects on ADL limitations are mediated by the increase in parents’ social integration.

Conclusion The findings suggest positive spillover effects of children’s political status on parents’ health. The benefits of having a cadre child are at least equivalent to the rural–urban gap in health and even stronger for the parents of higher ranking cadres. One potential explanation for such spillover effects is that a child’s political status can improve parents’ community involvement and social interactions.

  • self-rated health
  • physical functioning
  • social activities
  • political status
  • intergenerational transmission

Statistics from


  • Contributors This study was supervised by YZ. XZ drafted the manuscript. HT collaborated with XZ on analysing and interpreting the data. HT performed the statistical analysis. All authors contributed to the study. This study is financially supported by ‘the Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities’.

  • Funding The Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities in China.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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