A comparative study of childrearing values in the United States and China

Date of Completion

January 1998


Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Sociology, Social Structure and Development




This dissertation extends research on the linkage between social structure and socialization values. The primary goals are: (1) to examine the underlying structure of childrearing values, (2) to discover the dynamics of the structural-level, family-level, and individual-level determinants of childrearing values, and (3) to compare the value selection patterns in the United States and China. For the analysis, the study makes use of two samples, one from the United States and one from China, in the recent World Values Survey 1990-1993. Three value dimensions--autonomy, conformity, and a case orientation, are identified in both US. and China samples via factor analyses.^ Furthermore, a number of important and striking differences are found in the sources of value variation in the two countries. For example, in the United States, while the influence of class on men's values for children has become muted overtime, class differences in values continue to exist among women. In China, the valuation of children's autonomy or conformity is conditioned heavily by age and family size. Finally, despite of cross-national differences in political system, economic development, and cultural history, Americans and Chinese are quite similar in their thinking of the kinds of things to teach children at home. Among the top six qualities endorsed within each country, five are identical. ^