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Haiyan Zhu

Chapter 16 discusses gendered patterns in financial support to parents in China. The role of family as a primary source of support for the elderly is important for aging societies. This is particularly true in China, where filial piety is the central value of the family system and the majority of parents rely on their adult children, especially sons, for support. However, dramatic social, economic, and demographic changes have been eroding this traditional practice, thereby weakening intergenerational support between adult children and their parents. This chapter reviews recent research on children’s financial transfer to parents, focusing on gendered patterns. Traditionally, sons are permanent family members and are expected to care for their natal parents throughout their lives, while daughters begin to contribute to their husbands’ families upon marriage. Overall, research has shown a continuation of the traditional practice, especially in rural China and Taiwan, but also significant deviations, especially in urban China. Most notably, findings from research in urban China show that daughters now provide more financial support to their parents than sons do, suggesting that daughters are playing an increasingly important role in supporting the elderly in contemporary China. The urban_rural differences in the gendered pattern of intergenerational financial transfer suggest that economic factors may play an important role in changing the traditional family practice in mainland China.