Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Daughters-in-law Help Reduce Depression Among Chinese Elders, But Help From Own Kids Can Increase Depression, Study Finds

Date:
July 28, 2008
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
In a new twist on the Confucian ideal of filial piety, a study finds that the assistance of daughters-in-law -- but not their own children -- helps mitigate depression among older people in China. Almost two-thirds of the older population in China lives in rural areas, making it the largest concentration of older adults in the world.

In a new twist on the Confucian ideal of filial piety, a study finds that the assistance of daughters-in-law – but not their own children – helps mitigate depression among older people in China. This is particularly true in rural areas, where elders may rely more heavily on family to be support providers.

"The inability to secure assistance from children may induce depression not only because needs are likely to go unmet but because the absence of such support may induce feelings of helplessness and strain intergenerational relations," says Zhen Cong, who received her Ph.D. in May 2008 from the USC Davis School of Gerontology.

Cong and Professor Merril Silverstein of the USC Davis School of Gerontology were intrigued by earlier findings showing that intergenerational support, particularly hands-on care, had inconsistent effects on the psychological well-being of Chinese elders.

"Unlike emotional and financial support, instrumental support—in spite of its apparent cultural and practical significance—has shown inconsistent effects on the psychological well-being," Silverstein explains.

Cong and Silverstein looked at rural Anhui province, where rates of depression are twice that of their urban counterparts (though still much lower than in the West). They found that "instrumental support" – such as personal care and household chores – had a positive effect on well-being, depending on who was providing the service.

When women shared a home with their in-laws, their presence and support was particularly beneficial to the psychological well-being of older mothers. Daughters-in-law provided the overwhelming majority of personal care for older women in a household, the researchers found.

However, household support and personal care from sons was particularly damaging and increased depressive symptoms, according to the study, appearing in the August 2008 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

Similarly, mothers who received an increase in household support from daughters-in-law had fewer depressive symptoms, while those who experienced an increase in household support from their own daughters had more depressive symptoms.

"A general pattern emerged that supported the prolific and meaningful contributions of daughters-in-law in the support systems of older people in rural China," Silverstein says.

The study confirms prior research by Silverstein and others showing that perceived appropriateness of support is often more important to subjective well being than the support itself.

As Cong explains: "Aversion to household support from daughters and sons was sufficiently strong among older mothers and fathers to cause negative psychological outcomes, affirming the adverse emotional consequences that result when traditional expectations are violated."

The researchers note that almost two-thirds of the older population in China lives in rural areas, making it the largest concentration of older adults in the world.

"Our results suggest that attachment to traditional expectations for support may make elders more depressed in such a rapidly changing society as China," says Cong. "Elders will be psychologically disadvantaged unless they contemporize their expectations to match the changing social realities of Chinese society.

The research was supported by a grant from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Cong et al. Intergenerational Support and Depression Among Elders in Rural China: Do Daughters-In-Law Matter? Journal of Marriage and Family, 2008; 70 (3): 599 DOI: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2008.00508.x

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Daughters-in-law Help Reduce Depression Among Chinese Elders, But Help From Own Kids Can Increase Depression, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080724150440.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2008, July 28). Daughters-in-law Help Reduce Depression Among Chinese Elders, But Help From Own Kids Can Increase Depression, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080724150440.htm
University of Southern California. "Daughters-in-law Help Reduce Depression Among Chinese Elders, But Help From Own Kids Can Increase Depression, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080724150440.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins