The pursuit of achieving Goal 3 of the 2030 United Nations agenda for Sustainable Development, “ensuring healthy lives, achieving universal health coverage and promoting wellbeing for all”, has been a cardinal concern of governments and policy makers. The rural–urban divide in China has resulted in equality of health care distribution. To address this anomaly, the government of China has put in place the New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS). This intervention aims at ensuring the equitable distribution and affordability of health care in rural areas. Despite this measure, certain drawbacks in its implementation affect overall life satisfaction. Rural–urban migration resulting in age distribution gaps has also been generally identified by a plethora of literature to hamper intergenerational interaction, which is essential to overall life satisfaction especially for the elderly. However, little is known about the extent to which the NCMS, coupled with its drawbacks and intergenerational interaction, affect the overall life satisfaction of the rural elderly in China. Using an ordered response model, this study presents a thorough analysis on the life satisfaction of rural elderly making comparison across age groups and residence status sub-samples using a panel data from the two waves, 2011 and 2013, from China’s Health and Retirement Longitudinal Survey. The empirical results indicate that though the NCMS is indeed beneficial to promoting health and overall life satisfaction of rural elderly, there are some attendant limitations. We also find that intergenerational interaction in the form of frequent communication and financial assistance from children who fall within the non-cohabiting category promotes life satisfaction of the rural elderly. The degree of importance however varies across the aforementioned groups.
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