Nowadays, the proportion of the elderly population and the elderly dependency ratio are accelerating year by year in China. The existing literature has discussed the important role of community in the elderly-care life from many perspectives, but little focuses on the internal mechanism of the impact of community care support on health. In the future, how to better play the role of community care as a supplement and upgrade to family care, and how to effectively improve health benefits of the elderly will become increasingly important. Based on the data of CFPS2010, 2014 and CHARLS2018, this paper quantitatively analyzes the impact of community care support on the physical and mental health of the elderly and its mechanism from the community level and the individual level.
The results show that: (1) Community care support has a significant effect on improving the physical and mental health of the elderly. (2) Community care support can improve physical health by participating in sports and improving life independence, and improve mental health by protecting cognitive function and promoting social interaction. Different mechanism factors play different roles in the impact of community care support on health. (3) Community care support plays a stronger role in improving the health of the elderly who do not live with their children, which shows that community care support plays a role in replacing family care. However, the elderly in poor communities get less health benefits, and there is a “Matthew effect”. (4) Regular physical examination, onsite visits, community nursing, health management and entertainment are more significant to improve health, which also have a higher utilization rate.
The marginal contributions are as follows: (1) This paper explains the relationship between community care support and health of the elderly from the interdisciplinary perspective of economics and sociology, and combs and tests the possible channel in combination with the social production function theory and social support theory, which marginally supplements the relevant literature at the level of mechanism analysis. (2) For the measurement of community care support, this paper investigates from both the community level and the individual level. Compared with the existing literature, it changes from a general single measure to a more specific multi-dimensional measure. (3) This paper attempts to use “the number of members of the village or neighborhood committee” as the instrumental variable to deal with endogenous problems, which enriches the discussion on finding suitable instrumental variables for community care. (4) The policy recommendations are of practical significance. Although community care support can promote physical and mental health, its coverage and actual utilization rate are still low. In the future, we should explore various models of the community in integrating medical and nursing resources, and improve the utilization level of community care services and facilities by different elderly groups.