Social Pensions and Child Health in Rural China

Social pensions are important cash transfers to the elderly and their families. The pensions may not only affect the wellbeing of the direct recipients, but also have household and intergenerational spillover effects. Using the 2012 and 2014 waves of the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS) data, this paper examines the effect of the New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS) and its mechanisms on child health in rural China. Our study shows a significant association between the NRPS and the health status of children up to 15 years of age. Moreover, the association of the NRPS with health is larger for children who are boys, ‘left behind’, six to 10 years of age, and in poor health. In addition, we investigate possible mechanisms of the effect, including health consciousness of the caregiver, household sanitation conditions, and high-protein food consumption, and find the increase of child nutrition intake is the main channel through which the NRPS affects child health.