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Title: Negotiating eldercare in Chinese middle-class families : a case study of Tianjin, China
Authors: Wang, Lu
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study investigates changing views and practices of eldercare in Chinese middle-class families. It aims to understand the context in which shifting expectations, dynamics and various forms of family practices influence the lives of older people. The thesis concludes by making suggestions for policymakers, planners, and the market to provide appropriate support and options for the rising number of middle-class families. This thesis begins by exploring the fusion of two phenomena: the rising middle-class and increasing percentage of older people in China driven by increased longevity and the one child policy. The interaction of these is producing new dilemmas for families providing elder care and new strategies. Fieldwork took place in the urban region of Tianjin, China, to collect narratives of participants’ eldercare practices, their life stories and later life plans. After six-months fieldwork, a total of ten families were interviewed, including: seven families with three generations (grandparents, older parents and one-child) and three families without the oldest generation (older parents, one-child). Their family stories are analysed in three chapters (6,7,8) that discuss those families who are self-reliant; those who buy in support for the grandparents and finally those whose older parent generation are the oldest in the family who reflect on their own preferred ageing trajectory. The key findings are that in middle-class families, the grandparent generation have little need to rely on their adult children financially but can use their own good pensions. Older generations were able to use their wealth and housing assets to benefit younger generations and through that to promote familial support. Families had different interpretations of filial obligations but shared common values. For example, grandparents are happiest to age in the community with regular visits from their children. With only one child to rely on, older parents are very reluctant to burden their children and look to reciprocity in their family practices. The research revealed that while these middle-class households have stronger economic conditions, they still expect to care for the grandparent generation but, with many calls on family resources of time, need to navigate buy in support particularly when there is frailty in the very old. In the past co-residence would have supported filial piety but new living arrangements of living close by or ‘living with’ on a rotational or short-term basis are options embraced by middle class families. The research exposes the fragility of market based elder care support and the thesis concludes by making recommendations for building more robust services.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape

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