China and Inner Asia
SOAS University of London, United Kingdom
This article examines how old age support practices have changed in urban China against the backdrop of wider political, economic, and demographic transformations in the 20thcentury. Drawing upon 120 life history interviews in three urban sites, it examines the nature and origins of shifts and continuities in old age support across three generations. While generational comparisons reveal a decline in everyday financial and instrumental support from adult children to parents, crisis-induced intergenerational solidarity (arrangements for hospitalization and terminal care) remain intact. Rather than a decline of intergenerational ties predicted by the modernization thesis, interdependence has been tightened. Concurrently, as the market economy has developed, differences in ageing experience have widened between rich and poor families. Although gendered filial piety places daughters on the filial map of their in-laws, this article indicates that care for bilateral parents exists across the three generations. Urban daughters’ role in their own parents’ old age care is now recognized through parental inheritance plans. These shifts and continuities are the result of various factors, including evolving filial norms, gender, demographics (especially the one-child policy), and broader structural changes in the Chinese economy. This article contributes to the global debate on modernization and ageing by laying the groundwork for an examination of old age support trajectories grounded in local history and culture, economy and demography.