Living Arrangements and Older Adults' Psychological Well-Being and Life Satisfaction in China: Does Social Support Matter?

Xupeng Mao, Wen Jui Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To examine the associations between living arrangements and the psychological well-being and life satisfaction of Chinese older adults, as well as the mediating role of social support. Background: China has the largest elderly population of any nation, and the country's overall population is rapidly aging. At the same time, China is experiencing substantial changes in living arrangements, particularly among older adults, that may have reshaped the types and sources of social support older adults receive. Method: Using a nationally representative longitudinal dataset from 5 waves of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (N ≈ 5,000), we carried out structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine our research questions. Results: Compared with elders living with their children, living alone was negatively associated with rural elders' life satisfaction, whereas urban elders living in nursing homes were more likely to be satisfied with their lives. Social support not only was important to elders' psychological well-being and life satisfaction but also played some mediating role through receiving formal financial support. Conclusion: Our results indicate that living arrangements had both direct and indirect effects (through social support) on older adults' psychological well-being and life satisfaction. The mediating role played by social support differed by types and sources of social support. Implications: Our results speak to the importance of providing social support from suitable sources for contemporary elders in China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-584
Number of pages18
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018



  • Chinese older adults
  • life satisfaction
  • psychological well-being
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this