April 2022

IZA DP No. 15239: Grandfathers and Grandsons: Social Security Expansion and Child Health in China

We examine the multigenerational impacts of a nationwide social pension program in China, the New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS). NRPS was rolled out in full scale since 2012, and rural enrollees over age 60 are eligible to receive a minimum of 70 CNY non-contributory monthly pension. We leverage age eligibility and variations in pension receipt to identify the inter-generational effect of NRPS on health among grandchildren. We find NRPS substantially increases child weight without impacting height. Overall, child BMI z score increases by 1.09, which is largely driven by grandfathers' pension receipt raising rates of overweight and obesity among grandsons. Among the potential mechanisms, our findings are more plausibly explained by a mixture of income effect, son preference, and rising inter-generational co-residence and childcare.