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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2014 Jan;69(1):48-52. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbt049. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

Childlessness and subjective well-being in Chinese widowed persons.

Author information

1
Correspondence should be addressed to Sheung-Tak Cheng, Department of Psychological Studies, Hong Kong Institute of Education, 10 Lo Ping Road, Tai Po, N.T., Hong Kong. E-mail: takcheng@ied.edu.hk.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

This study examined the effect of childlessness on psychological well-being in widowhood taking into account the influences of social network variables.

METHOD:

A total of 273 Chinese widowed individuals who were community dwelling formed the sample of this study. Sixteen percent (n = 44) were childless. Social network variables, instrumental activities of daily living, chronic illnesses, depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect were assessed.

RESULTS:

Childlessness was significantly associated with all outcomes of psychological well-being even after controlling for network size. After positive and negative exchanges were taken into account, the effect of childlessness on depression and life satisfaction became nonsignificant but remained significant on positive and negative affect. Furthermore, the effects of childlessness on depression and life satisfaction were significantly stronger in women than in men. Childlessness also had a stronger association with depression in those with functional impairments.

DISCUSSION:

Findings support the importance of children, and supportive exchanges with them, for the subjective well-being of Chinese widowed persons. Being women and having physical dependencies might amplify the effects of childlessness.

KEYWORDS:

Childlessness; Depression; Subjective well-being; Widowhood.

PMID:
23804430
DOI:
10.1093/geronb/gbt049
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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