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Gerontologist. 2011 Jun;51(3):295-309. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnq062. Epub 2010 Aug 11.

Perceived need and actual usage of the family support agreement in rural China: results from a nationally representative survey.

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College of Social Work, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA.



The Family Support Agreement (FSA) is a voluntary but legal contract between older parents and adult children on parental support in China. As the first comprehensive empirical study on the FSA, this study aims to understand the prevalence and covariates of older parents' perceived need and actual use of this agreement.


Using logistic regression analyses, t-tests and chi-square tests, this study analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of 9,587 rural parents aged 60 years and above from the 2006 Sample Survey on Aged Population in Urban/Rural China, which had a 99% response rate.


More than 11% of the subjects regarded the FSA as necessary, and more than 6% have signed it, respectively, representing 160 million and 30.7 million older Chinese. Perceiving the need for the FSA was associated with living arrangement, number of daughters-in-law, care needs, filial piety assessment and concerns, family harmony, sociodemographics, individual characteristics related to rights protection, and the existence of rights protection-related local community organizations. Having signed the FSA was associated with the above last 3 factors, traditional old-age support strategy, and FSA need assessment.


Individuals regarding the FSA as necessary or using it are characterized by personal, familial, and sociocultural factors that render them more in need of parental support but less likely to receive it. They are also better informed about their rights, are more willing to take actions to protect their rights, and have more exposure to rights protection--related community organizations.

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