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Do Child Characteristics Matter to Mitigate the Widowhood Effect on the Elderly’s Mental Health? Evidence from China

Yuxin Wang*, Haoyue Ma, Lan Zheng

School of Economics, Hefei University of Technology, Hefei, 230601, China

* Corresponding Author: Yuxin Wang. Email: email

International Journal of Mental Health Promotion 2023, 25(5), 673-686. https://doi.org/10.32604/ijmhp.2023.026394

Abstract

This study empirically examines whether child characteristics mitigate the negative impact of widowhood on the elderly’s mental health using follow-up survey data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). A total of 5,326 older adults aged 60 years and older are selected from three waves of panel data (2013, 2015, and 2018). The findings suggest that respondents who experienced widowhood exhibit an increase in depressive symptoms. However, the higher income of children and frequent face-to-face emotional interactions improve the mental health of the widowed elderly. Moreover, heterogeneity analyses show that the buffering effect of higher child income is more significant among men and the Midwestern widowed elderly, and frequent face-to-face emotional interactions are more effective in improving the psychological status of women and the Midwestern widowed elderly. In the special social and cultural background of China, family members remain the main support for the elderly, and the current social pension system is still imperfect. Therefore, children should strengthen emotional communication with their parents while increasing their economic income. In that way, widowhood can achieve both material and spiritual prosperity. The government should identify the vulnerable groups among the elderly widows and introduce policies aimed at improving their mental health and reducing the disparity in mental health status.

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Cite This Article

Wang, Y., Ma, H., Zheng, L. (2023). Do Child Characteristics Matter to Mitigate the Widowhood Effect on the Elderly’s Mental Health? Evidence from China. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 25(5), 673–686.



cc This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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