The effect of spousal caregiving on depressive symptoms among older male caregivers in China

Stream: Experiences and wellbeing of unpaid carers
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 10.55 am – 12.35 pm


As the population ages, elder care has become an increasing challenge to China. Family members often serve as primary caregivers for old adults. Previous research revealed that caregiving would lead to negative affect on caregivers’psychological well-being. However, as women play a dominant role in housework, few studies have focused exclusively on the male caregivers. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the effect of caring disabled wives on the depressive symptoms of older husbands in China.

This study applied data from the 2015 China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). We included spouses aged 60 and above and the respondents were coded as husband caregivers if they provided activities of daily life (ADL) assistance to their wives. Two stage least square regression analyses were used. The model of instrument variables was employed to reduce endogenous bias.

Husbands who were serving as the primary caregivers of their disabled wives showed significantly more depressive symptoms than those who did not care their partners. Additionally, living in rural areas, less education, poorer health, not covered by pension system, and spouses’poorer functional abilities were positively related to the husbands’depression.

The findings of this study could inform the development of long-term care policies and services to relieve the caregiving burden among the male caregivers.


Xinyi Zhao (Presenter), Peking University
Dr Xinyi Zhao is an assistant professor at School of Medical Humanities, Peking University. She got her PhD degree from Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong. Her research fields include productive aging, long-term care policy, and medical social work.

Quan Zhang, Peking University
Mr Quan Zhang is a student at School of Medical Humanities, Peking University. His research interests includes health economics and long-term care.

Vivian Weiqun Lou, The University of Hong Kong
Dr. Vivian Lou is an associate professor at Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong. She is also the Director of Sau Po Centre on Ageing, HKU. She has studied widely on family caregiving, active aging, and their health impacts.