China Considers Requiring Families to Care for Elderly

Friday, January 07, 2011

Caring for the elderly has long played an important role in Chinese culture. But rapid economic growth has forced adult Chinese children to abandon their hometowns to find jobs in other parts of the country — often leaving their elderly parents on their own. This cultural shift has led Chinese officials to consider a law that would require adult children to care for their parents.

Sheryl WuDunn, banker with Mid-Market Securities and author of “China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power,” joins us to discuss this trend in China and how it compares to the United States. Lily Weasner immigrated to America from China in 1971. She recenlty visited China to care for her own mother, who was ill, a job that traditionally falls to the eldest child.


Lily Weasner and Sheryl WuDunn

Produced by:

Andrea Swalec and Jillian Weinberger

Comments [4]


Could it also be a consequence of China's oppressive one child policy or perhaps this is China's cynical but effective attempt to manipulate western media with stories about the state protecting the elderly? Lest we forget, this was the nation that gave us the terror of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960's which was about the youth targeting their elders.

Jan. 07 2011 10:46 AM
Shanna in OKC from Oklahoma City, OK

I'm not certain it should be a requirement to care for your elders but the Chinese govt could encourage their people to do so. It's understandable to turn your back on those parents, grand parents, etc. that may have failed in their responsibility to care for their children properly but for people that had a solid relationship it can highly enrich their lives. The bond that it forged between the generations is what keeps our culture our own... least we become sheep being herded around by the man! haha... j/k But it's true.

Jan. 07 2011 10:04 AM
Jane from Pittsburgh, PA

My mother's mother was a violent drunk and abusive towards my mother most of her life (Beat her - put cigarettes out on her arms). She now lives in a nursing home and my mother pays for her care - but never visits her....Just because someone gives birth to you doesn't mean you have a duty to take care of them later on if they failed in that duty to you as a child.

Jan. 07 2011 09:10 AM

In America, many elderly parents don't want their children involved in their retirement lives. We (baby boom children) have offered many times to care for our parents. They reject the notion. They'd rather have some unknown paid attendant. And then guilt trip their kids for not visiting (but only for a few days please) the thousands of miles they moved away.

On the other hand - I look for forward to being part of my children's and grandkids lives and would like them in mine as I get older.

Jan. 07 2011 08:19 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.