The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Does Helping Children With Babysitting Affect Receiving Support From Adult Children Among Chinese Older Adults-- A Comparison Between Immigrant, Non-Immigrant, and Yo-Yo Families

Friday, January 17, 2014
HBG Convention Center, Bridge Hall Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Ling Xu, MSW, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Texas at Arlington, Los Angeles, CA
Iris Chi, DSW, Endowed Chair, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Man Guo, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Jinyu Liu, MA, MSW, Ph.D Candidate, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Weiyu Mao, MPhil, Ph. D student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Background and purpose: Population aging and immigration are reshaping the demographic profile of the United States and support needs of older persons. In the recent decades, many Chinese older adults migrated to the United States to reunion with their children (immigrant family), or go back and forth between China and the U.S. (yo-yo family). Those older adults, together with those that live in China (non-immigrant family) always serve as either primary or secondary caregiver for their grandchildren. Previous studies have shown that older adults gained more financial support from their adult children by taking care of their children (grandchildren) in rural China. However, few studies have explored whether this baby sitting behavior affected older adults’ support receipt from their adult children in immigrant, yo-yo, and non-immigrant families. This study compared support receipt of older adults in these three types of families, and explored whether babysitting grandchildren affected support receipt among older adults in these three families.

Method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Los Angeles and Beijing between 2010 and 2012. The immigrant family sample consisted of 237 Chinese elders who migrated to the US and lived in Los Angeles. 293 yo-yo elders generally stayed in Beijing, but visited their immigrant children occasionally. The non-immigrant family sample consisted of 257 older adults recruited from neighborhood committees and public areas in residential communities in Beijing. The dependent variable was three dimensions of support that older adults received from their adult children: instrumental (dichotomous), financial (dichotomous), and emotional support (interval). The independent variable was grandparent babysitting intensity in the past 12 months (interval). ANOVA and Chi-square test was first conducted to test whether there were group differences on grandchildren babysitting or receiving each dimension of support from adult children. Independent regressions were then carried out to explore the association between grandchild babysitting and each dimension of support received from adult children among older adults after controlling the socio-demographic variables.

Results: The Chi-square test and ANOVA showed that there were significant differences between receiving instrumental support (x2 =71.09, p<.001), financial support (x 2 =8.33, p<.05), emotional support (F=24.36, p<.000) as well as grandchildren babysitting (F=4.78, p<.05) among older adults in these three types of families. More specifically, older adults in non-immigrant families received the most financial support, elders in yo-yo families received the most emotional support, and older adults in immigrant families provided most grandchildren babysitting and got the most instrumental support. The regression results showed that grandchildren babysitting were significantly associated with emotional support (β=0.16, p<.05) and financial support (OR=1.56, p<.05) for older adults in immigrant families, and with instrumental support (OR=1.67, p<.01) for elders in yo-yo immigrant families.

Conclusion and implications: The findings confirm the reciprocity aspects of social exchange theory, but partially support “time-for-money” model that was found in previous literature. The results also indicate the rewarding aspect of grandchildren babysitting on receiving support from adult children in immigrant families. Future studies can examine whether babysitting behavior has rewarding effects on the physical and psychological well-being of older adults.