Persistence and challenges to filial piety and informal support of older persons in a modern Chinese society

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Journal of Aging Studies, ISSN: 0890-4065, Vol: 16, Issue: 2, Page: 135-153

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NG, Ching Ying, Anita; PHILLIPS, David Rosser; LEE, Keng Mun, William
Elsevier BV; Pergamon Press
Nursing; Medicine; Gerontology
article description
Social support networks, consisting principally of family members, neighbors, and friends, can provide various support functions to older persons. As societies modernize, changes in family structure might alter this supportive ability, and changes in traditional values affect the nature of the network and support provided. This may especially be so in rapidly modernizing societies as in the Asia–Pacific region where the traditional role of the family and especially children's duty of care for parents (“filial piety”) may be weakening. This proposition was investigated by a qualitative study in a modern new town (Tuen Mun) in Hong Kong. In-depth interviews with 50 older persons in public housing estates were triangulated with data from focus groups and key informants. Living arrangements, geographical proximity, and the quality of relationships between potential caregivers and receivers affected needs for and provision of support, and there were interactions between various components of informal support. An important finding, which also has policy implications, is that traditional Confucian filial piety may be undergoing modification, perhaps erosion, implying ongoing changes in intergenerational relations in this modernizing Asian society.