Preferences for Formal Social Care in Rural and Urban China: Evidence from a National Survey

Cheng SHI, Bo HU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates older people’s preferences for social care in rural and urban China. The data come from the China Longitudinal Aging Social Survey (CLASS) which collected information from a nationally representative sample of 10,682 Chinese older people aged 60 and over in 2014. Guided by the ecological model of aging, multilevel logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify the factors associated with preferred care arrangements. We found that older people in urban China are more likely than those in rural China to accept care home services or prefer government-provided care. Educational qualifications and the number of surviving children strongly and consistently predict older people’s preferences for formal care in both rural and urban China. Proximity to care home facilities and higher income are associated with an increase in the willingness to live in a care home in urban China, but they are not significant predictors of preferences for formal care in rural China. We argue that a one-size-fits-all social care policy may not be well-received in the Chinese older population. The government may want to consider social care policies where support is tailored to suit older people’s varied preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-40
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Gerontological Social Work
Issue number1-2
Early online date30 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the China Scholarship Council [State Scholarship Fund (grant number 201706360233)].


  • China
  • ecological model of aging
  • older people
  • rural-urban disparity
  • Social care preferences


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