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Family structures, familial relationships and socioeconomic changes in China and Russia


Chen, Feinian (2001). Family structures, familial relationships and socioeconomic changes in China and Russia. Master's thesis / Doctoral dissertation.


The dissertation examines types of family structures and familial relationships in different settings and how they respond to socioeconomic changes. It is organized around three research articles, with the first two focusing on China and the last one being a comparative study of China and Russia. I make use of two datasets, the China Health and Nutrition Survey, and the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey. The first analytical chapter examines residential patterns of parents and their married children in China from 1991 to 1997. The results suggest that there is a decline in the trend of coresidence from 1991 to 1997. However, the rate of the decline differs by age cohorts. In addition, the residential pattern of parents and their married children is not a static phenomenon, but often respond to changes in the life course. Early on, parental residence adjusts to married children's needs. Later on, it adjusts to parental needs. The second analytical chapter examines the work activities of coresiding mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law in rural China. The historically oppressive relationship has been transformed. The analyses suggest that work activities of daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law are not independent of each other, but rather reflect a coordination of activities. Further, the intergenerational division of labor responds to family needs and is affected by power dynamics in the household. The last analytical chapter studies the impact of economic transitions on gender division of household labor in China and Russia. I focus on the effect of two specific types of employment changes in each country. Results from the Russia analysis suggest that unemployment makes both the husband and wife adjust their housework hours accordingly. The lack of a gender-specific effect implies that even unemployment of the husband, who theoretically has more free time, does not equalize gender division of labor. In the study of China, I find that a shift to a nonagricultural job from an agricultural job has a much stronger effect on the wife than on the husband, largely because the husband does very little housework under any circumstance.

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Chen, Feinian