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Supports for the Aged in China: A Rural-Urban Comparison1

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Using support as an organizing concept, this study compares the disparities between the rural and urban elderly in contemporary Chinese society. Four broad areas of support for the elderly are discussed: 1) economic support; 2) medical care; 3) daily assistance; and 4) perceptions of difficulties in receiving support. Based on the 1987 Aged Population Over 60 Years Sampling Survey, the results show that net of a gender effect, there are systematic and significant disparities in all of the four support areas between the rural and urban elderly. We suggest that these marked and persistent disparities are largely due to the structural inequalities embedded in the system of state socialism. Policy implications and possible remedial actions are also discussed.


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