Depressive Symptoms in Later Life in China: Situating “Long Arm” of Child Physical Maltreatment Within a Family Context

Chengming Han, Tirth Bhatta, Eva Kahana, Boaz Kahana, Brian Gran, Nan Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This article intends to reveal the long-term effects of physical maltreatment in childhood on depressive symptoms in later life in China. Methods: Data were drawn from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). 8676 respondents aged 45 and older were included in the study. In this study, we use ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models to estimate the long-term impact on children of physical punishment from their parents. Results: We found that individuals who recalled being hit by their mother in early life reported more depressive symptoms than those who recalled being punished by their father. Difficult family contexts (e.g., comparative poverty, family violence, and parent's poor mental health) had a weak association with higher risk of reporting physical maltreatment and more depressive symptoms among respondents in later life. Conclusion: This article extended the exploration of the long-term impact of child physical maltreatment beyond adolescence and into until later adult life. Effective policies to protect children from maltreatment in the form of physical punishment require further attention to the challenges posed by tradition and culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-419
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number4
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • adverse childhood experience
  • depressive symptoms in later life
  • family contexts
  • physical maltreatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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