Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jeffrey A. Burr

Second Advisor

Kyungmin Kim

Third Advisor

Zhen Cong


Although cognitive loss is part of normal aging, it has unfavorable consequences for older individuals, their family, as well as society. The prevalence of mild cognition impairment is expected to go up in China. How to maintain normal cognition for a longer period of time and to delay impair process is an emerging concern for older Chinese adults. Unlike Western countries, China lacks of formal support system. Intergenerational support between older parents and adult children is a predominant resource when they are in need. This study examines how intergenerational financial exchanges between older parents and their adult children is related to parents’ cognitive well-being in the context of Chinese social cultural and family systems, with an emphasis of the differences in the relationship by rural and urban residence. This study focuses on a particular type of intergenerational exchange, financial transfers, from the older parents’ perspective. A modified version of the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) measure of cognitive function serves as the outcome variable. The study also investigates whether there are mediations, namely health-related behaviors and depression, linking intergenerational exchange and cognitive function. Data are drawn from two waves of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS) - 2005 and 2008. Results from Latent Class Analysis (LCA) revealed that receiving financial support was the most prevalent pattern among older adults in China. Multinomial regression results showed that older adults who engaged in reciprocal exchange tended to have lower likelihood of experiencing cognitive impairment, providing evidence to support the equity theory. Rural older adults were more disadvantaged than their urban counterparts regarding cognitive well-being and financial exchange. However, no significant rural and urban differences were found in the relationship between intergenerational financial exchange and cognitive well-being. Lastly, some of the intergenerational financial exchange effects on cognitive function were mediated by nutrition. These findings suggest that the inclusion of adequate nutrition intake as a means of maintaining cognition well-being may help communities, families, as well as older individuals, promote a healthy life style and live a high quality of life.