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Challenges for the Aging Family in the People’s Republic of China

  • David R. Phillips (a1) and Zhixin Feng (a2)

The People’s Republic of China has the largest population of older persons of any country in the world. It is a nation that has experienced enormous economic, social, and demographic changes over the past three and a half decades. Traditionally, the family was the main social support for older persons; this changed somewhat under early socialism, but in recent years, the importance of family support has been reasserted. However, over this time, the family’s ability to support its older members has been considerably altered and arguably weakened. This article reviews four key issues (population change, the hukou system, economic reform, general features surrounding modernization) that have gradually changed families’ capacity to provide support for older members. Research foci and public policy directions are considered under which the state might take some responsibilities from the family, support capacity to care, and improve the quality and quantity of support for older citizens.

La République populaire de Chine a la plus grande population de personnes âgées de tous les pays du monde. Il est une nation qui a subi d'énormes changements économiques, sociaux et démographiques au cours des dernières trois et demi-décennies. Traditionnellement, la famille a fourni le soutien social principal pour les personnes âgées; sous le socialisme précoce, cela a changé quelque peu, mais au cours des dernières années, l'importance du soutien de la famille a été réaffirmé. Cet article examine quatre questions essentielles (changements démographiques, le système du hukou, le réforme économique, et les caractéristiques générales entourant la modernisation) qui ont peu à peu changé la capacité des familles à fournir un soutien pour leur membres plus âgés. Domaines de recherche et orientations de politique publique sont considérés en vertu de lesquelles l'État pourrait prendre quelques responsabilités de la famille, soutenir la capacité des soins, et aussi améliorer la qualité et la quantité de l'aide pour les citoyens âgés.

Corresponding author
Correspondence and requests for reprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: David R. Phillips, Ph.D. Lingnan University – Sociology and Social Policy Tuen Mun Hong Kong (
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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
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  • EISSN: 1710-1107
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