The Structure of Intergenerational Relations in Rural China: A Latent Class Analysis

Man Guo, Iris Chi, Merril Silverstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Most existing typology studies of intergenerational relations have used samples in North America and Europe. The present study expands on previous research by determining whether similar family relation typologies could be found using a sample of Chinese rural elders. The data were derived from a survey of 1,224 older adults in China's rural Anhui province in 2009. Latent class analysis revealed 5 types of intergenerational relations in rural Chinese families: (a) tight-knit, (b) nearby but discordant, (c) distant discordant, (d) distant reciprocal, and (e) distant ascending. The authors argue that the distant ascending ties reflect the strong filial obligations that Chinese adult children have toward their parents and that the distant reciprocal ties reflect collaborative and mutually beneficial parent-child relations in rural China in the context of massive rural-to-urban migration. The findings of this study demonstrate how family relations in contemporary China are shaped by the larger economic, geographic, and cultural contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1128
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Aging
  • Family relations
  • Latent class analysis
  • Rural families
  • Social context
  • Typology studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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