Family and marital conflict among Chinese older adults in the United States: The influence of personal coping resources

Man Guo, Xinqi Dong, Agnes Tiwari

Publication Date: 07/01/2017

Background: Conflict in the family is a major risk factor for the well-being of older immigrants, whose lives are centered around their families. This study examined the potential linkage between personal coping resources and family and marital conflict among U.S. Chinese older adults.

Methods: Data were derived from the PINE study, a population-based study of Chinese elders in Chicago (N = 3,157). Logistic regressions were carried out to predict the likelihood of having conflict with family members and with the spouse, respectively, using indicators of personal coping resources (ie, socioeconomic status, physical health, acculturation level, perceived children’s filial piety, number of friends, and sense of mastery).

Results: The results showed that older adults with higher education (odds ratio [OR] = 1.03, confidence interval [CI] = 1.01–1.06; OR = 1.09, CI = 1.06–1.11, respectively), lower perception of children being filial (OR = 0.95, CI = 0.93–0.97; OR = 0.96, CI = 0.94–0.98], respectively), and lower sense of mastery (OR = 0.95, CI = 0.94–0.96; OR = 0.98, CI = 0.97–0.99, respectively) were more likely to report both family and marital conflict. Older adults who had more friends were less likely to report marital conflict (OR = 0.61, CI = 0.43–0.86). Conclusions: Overall, older immigrants with greater coping resources seemed to have less family and marital conflict. Particularly important are their own sense of control and available support from children and friends in the new society. Higher education could be a risk factor for these conflicts. Future studies are needed to distinguish everyday life conflict from acculturation-related conflict in this population.