Childlessness and subjective well-being in Chinese widowed persons

Sheung-Tak CHENG, Wai Sze Trista CHAN, Geoff H. K. Li, Man Fuk Edward LEUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This study examined the effect of childlessness on psychological well-being in widowhood taking into account the influences of social network variables. Method: A total of 273 Chinese widowed individuals who were community dwelling formed the sample of this study. Sixteen percent (n = 44) were childless. Social network variables, instrumental activities of daily living, chronic illnesses, depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect were assessed. Results: Childlessness was significantly associated with all outcomes of psychological well-being even after controlling for network size. After positive and negative exchanges were taken into account, the effect of childlessness on depression and life satisfaction became nonsignificant but remained significant on positive and negative affect. Furthermore, the effects of childlessness on depression and life satisfaction were significantly stronger in women than in men. Childlessness also had a stronger association with depression in those with functional impairments. Discussion: Findings support the importance of children, and supportive exchanges with them, for the subjective well-being of Chinese widowed persons. Being women and having physical dependencies might amplify the effects of childlessness. Copyright © 2013 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-52
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology: Series B
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


Cheng, S.-T., Chan, T. W. S., Li, G. H. K., & Leung, E. M. F. (2014). Childlessness and subjective well-being in Chinese widowed persons. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 69B(1), 48-52.


  • Childlessness
  • Depression
  • Subjective well-being
  • Widowhood


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