Tradition and change in the urban Chinese family: The case of living arrangements

John R. Logan, Fuqin Bian, Yanjie Bian

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175 Scopus citations


Levels of coresidence of parents with adult children, particularly with married children, remain high and surprisingly stable over time in urban China. Analysis of new survey data reveals that in some ways coresidence is consistent with traditional patterns: it is patrilocal, and it responds more clearly to parents' needs than to children's needs. Nevertheless, researchers have shown that most parents and children do not prefer coresidence. State policies that reinforce gender bias, limit state support for social services, and reduce housing opportunities may be as important as traditional values in preserving older family patterns. Comparison of recent trends in Tianjin and Shanghai suggests that coresidence may decline sharply if external constraints on people's choices are relaxed. The impact of the one-child family policy will be felt at the turn of the century, greatly reducing the proportion of parents who may live with their adult child, but the way that families deal with this change cannot be foreseen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-882
Number of pages32
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* We thank Hanlong Lu and Yunkang Pan for their participation in the collection of the survey data analyzed here, and Deborah Davis, Robert Merton, Glenna Spitze, Kathy Trent, Russell Ward, and Martin Whyte for suggestions and comments. This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (SES-9209214) and the National Institutes of Health (Rol HD32946-o1A1) and completed while the first author was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. Direct all correspondence to John Logan, Department of Sociology, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, NY 12222. E-mail: J.LOGAN@ALBANY.EDU.


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