Effects of living alone on social capital and health among older adults in China

Qingwen Xu, Julie A. Norstrand, Yan Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social capital has been connected with positive health outcomes across countries, including China. Given the rise in the number of seniors living alone, there is a need to examine the health benefits of social capital, accounting for living arrangements. Data from the 2005 Chinese General Social Survey were used to test research hypotheses. Controlling for demographics, elders living alone possessed similar level of social capital compared with elders living with others. While bonding and linking social capital were significant factors in urban areas and linking social capital was a significant factor in rural areas, the relationship between living alone and health did not differ based on the level of social capital possession. When the traditional intergenerational living arrangement has not been a valid option for many older adults in China, seeking new way of family caring, and developing appropriate social and institutional structures to assist elders living alone, becomes critical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-53
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2015


  • China
  • Health
  • Living arrangement
  • Social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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