The New Rural Pension Scheme （NRPS） is an important component of the social security system in rural China. After the implementation of the NRPS, many studies have investigated the effects of the NRPS on the well-being and life quality of rural elderly and their families. However, there are still little research regarding the effect of the NRPS on the subjective well-being of the rural elderly and its mechanism. With China’s social and economic development, people not only concern about economic well-being, but also pursue higher levels of subjective well-being, which has become an important component of people’s welfare and life quality in China. Therefore, studying the relationship between the NRPS and the subjective well-being of rural elderly in China is of great significance to the improvement of the current rural social security policy and the quality of life rural residents in old age. Therefore, it has crucial significance to study the relationship and the internal mechanism between the NRPS and the well-being of the elderly for improving the life quality of the rural elderly. Based on the data of China Health and Elderly Tracing Study （CHARLS） in 2011 and 2013, this study empirically analyzes the effect of the NRPS on the subjective well-being of the rural elderly by using the lag term estimation, the instrumental variable method and the regression discontinuity design, and tests possible channels of the effect by applying the path analysis method. Our study finds that the NRPS can significantly reduce the degree of depression and improve the life satisfaction of the elderly in rural China, which has passed a number of robustness tests, especially for women, youngsters and left-behind old adults. The effects of different pension amount levels are different. Receiving the basic pension only cannot significantly improve the level of the subjective well-being of the insured old adults. The positive effect of the NRPS on the rural elders’ subjective well-being begins to appear when the pension exceeds the amount of the basic pension. In the meantime, the later the participation time is, the weaker the effect of the NRPS is. In terms of the mechanism, the positive effect on the subjective well-being of the NRPS mainly comes from three channels: the absolute income effect, the relative income effect and the time allocation effect. Specifically, the mediating effects of the absolute income and the relative income are greater than the time allocation effect. Moreover, the absolute income effect of the NRPS cannot significantly increase individual and family consumptions and the relative income exerts the strongest effect among the three channels. In other words, in the current stage, the main reason why the NRPS improves the subjective well-being of elderly people in rural China is not the economic or physical support, but the spiritual support to enhance confidence toward life in the future. Therefore, in order to strengthen the positive effect of the NRPS on the subjective well-being of rural elderly in China, it is important to increase the levels of the pension subsidy, strengthen support for the disadvantaged elderly and create a better environment for social and cultural activities.
The Social Pension Scheme and the Subjective Well-being of the Elderly in Rural China
Journal of Finance and Economics Vol. 44, Issue 09, pp. 80 - 94 (2018) DOI:10.16538/j.cnki.jfe.2018.09.005
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Cite this article
Zheng Xiaodong, Fang Xiangming. The Social Pension Scheme and the Subjective Well-being of the Elderly in Rural China[J]. Journal of Finance and Economics, 2018, 44(9): 80-94.