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The intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic resources and adult self-rated health in China Zhang, Xueqing


Informed by Bourdieu and Passeron’s theory of reproduction, I utilize cross-sectional survey data from the 2015 Chinese General Social Survey to investigate whether and how parents utilize their socioeconomic resources to facilitate the acquisition of socioeconomic resources by their children that in turn affect the health of the adult children. I find that parental education, parental type of work unit and self-rated childhood social class but not parental membership in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) manifest independent associations with the self-rated health of survey respondents and that the intergenerational pathways from parental socioeconomic resources to self-rated health differ for men and women. Specifically, much of the association between parental socioeconomic resources and respondent self-rated health is explained by educational attainment among women and by household income among men. I also uncover a son-preference intergenerational transmission process for men born after 1970, near the beginning of significant market transitions in China. This study illuminates the importance of the intergenerational transmission of multiple forms of capital in fostering the good health of Chinese adults. In particular, these findings suggest that wealthy and well-educated Chinese parents tend to invest their capitals in the educational trajectories of their female children and in fostering the household incomes of their male children, both of which ultimately translate into good self-rated health for their adult children. This research not only documents the effect of parental resource on self-rated health but also reveals that the relationship between the state and individuals, which reflects the social changes that have characterized contemporary China, is an important factor when it comes to an understanding the nature of socioeconomic inequalities in health in this national context.

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