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Shifting elder care practices in Chinese middle-class families

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rose Gilroy, Dr Andrew LawORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This paper explores how ideas and practices of elder-care may be changing for the new Chinese middle class. This paper draws on in-depth interviews with the members of different generations of ten middle class families in the Chinese city of Tianjin. It explores how increased resources but also increased pressure are affecting the care of older people and the expectations around elder-care. Thematic analysis of transcripts entered into NVIVO revealed three findings. Firstly, that the generation born in the 1950s and 1960s are often negotiating their care responsibilities between their parents and their grandchildren. Secondly, the only viable elder-care solution for many families is to buy in support from an unregulated market-based home care sector. Thirdly driven by an increasingly postmodern culture, filial piety may be changing from a normative expectation to a set of new practices based on familial reciprocity. The paper concludes by reflecting on the issues that will arise from the proposed raising of the retirement age in China, and the increasing geographic dispersal of generations. Flexible working policies as well as investment in a regulated home care sector are recommended as solutions to be explored.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wang L, Gilroy R, Law A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Plos One

Year: 2023

Volume: 18

Issue: 3

Online publication date: 24/03/2015

Acceptance date: 12/03/2016

Date deposited: 25/03/2023

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0283533


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