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Is informal care sufficient to meet the long-term care needs of older people with disabilities in China? Evidence from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalAgeing and Society
Early online date8 Nov 2019
Accepted/In press18 Sep 2019
E-pub ahead of print8 Nov 2019


King's Authors


Rapid demographic shifts and socio-economic changes are fuelling concerns over the inadequate supply of informal care – the most common source of care-giving for older people in China. Unmet long-term care needs, which are believed to cause numerous adverse effects on health, continue to increase. Drawing data from the 2015 wave of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey, this study explores the relationship between informal care provision and unmet long-term care needs among older people in China. We first examine the availability of informal care among older people with disabilities. We then analyse whether a higher intensity of informal care leads to lower unmet needs. Our findings suggest that the majority of older people with disabilities receive a low intensity of care, i.e. less than 80 hours per month. Besides, a higher intensity of informal care received could significantly lower the probabilities of unmet needs for the disabled older adults who have mainly instrumental activities of daily living limitations. Our study points out that informal care cannot address the needs of those who are struggling with multi-dimensional difficulties in their daily living. Our findings highlight a pressing need for the government to buttress the formal care provision and delivery systems to support both informal care-givers and disabled older people in China.

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