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Objectives: To examine whether older parents in China would benefit more from daughters’ care than from sons’ care.

Methods: Analysis of the unique datasets of the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey conducted in 2002, 2005 and 2008-2009 in 22 provinces.

Results: As compared to having son(s), having daughter(s) is significantly more beneficial at older ages in China, with regards to maintaining higher cognitive capacity and reducing mortality risk. Such daughter-advantages are more profound among the oldest-old aged 80+ as compared to the young-old aged 65-79, and surprisingly more profound in rural areas as compared to urban areas, even though son-preference is much more common among rural residents.

Discussion: We describe how educational campaigns aimed at informing the public about the benefits of daughter(s) for older parents’ health outcome could help promote gender equality and reduce traditional son-preference, especially in rural China.