The purpose of this paper is to provide evidence about the possible cause and effect of the problematic gender imbalance at birth in China. Much of the literature on this issue presents discussions based on the traditional assumption that Chinese sons are more involved in taking care of parents than Chinese daughters are, and thus, that Chinese parents prefer sons. Yet, empirical evidence is lacking.
This paper verifies the assumption by using the “Preference Parameters Study in China 2011,” which conducted 652 face-to-face interviews with randomly selected individuals in six major Chinese cities.
This paper first presents empirical evidence that Chinese sons (and their wives) are more likely, compared to daughters (and their husbands), to be primary caregivers for parents. The paper also reports the finding that Chinese parents’ dependencies on their children would not necessarily decrease with the development of social security, although that may be the case when a child has a highly educated spouse.
The Chinese government needs to increase long-term care services for older people, especially since more women are being educated.
Although this study has data collection limitations, with data collected in only six major cities, the problematic nature of gender imbalance at birth and the lack of available empirical evidence demand that researchers begin to construct a better understanding of the causes of, and possible solutions to, this phenomenon. With that in mind, this paper contributes to that construction of knowledge and insight.
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