China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
In 2017, China’s population aged 60 and above reached 241 million, or 17.3 percent of the total population. Despite the large size of the aging population, the Chinese government has yet to provide sufficient financial support and affordable eldercare facilities and services to the socioeconomically diverse aging population. Meanwhile, the longstanding practice of filial support has undergone significant changes, as intergenerational relations have been reinterpreted amid drastic socioeconomic transformations in China. Based on long-term ethnographic research, the four papers in this panel examine emerging eldercare challenges and new forms of caregiving among diverse groups of the elderly population in China. Jeanne Shea’s paper focuses on eldercare provided by spouses and discusses spousal caregiving as a way of being self-sufficient. Yan Zhang’s paper delves into the decision-making of family caregiving for elders with dementia and reveals the changing caregiving arrangements within the family. While the first two papers focus on emerging practices of caregiving provided by family members, Rose Keimig’s paper discusses challenges of institutional care by examining everyday life in China’s nursing homes. The last paper by Lihong Shi studies the unique eldercare concerns shared among elders who lost their only child born under the previous one-child policy. By examining eldercare challenges faced by various groups of the elderly who have different eldercare needs and new forms of caregiving, including spousal care and institutional care, this panel brings to light the impact of population aging and socioeconomic changes on the experiences of aging and caregiving in China.