The Perception of Older People Towards the State’s Responsibility in Old-age Care in Urban China

By: Pui Ling Ada Cheung  

Adopting the neoliberal welfare approach emphasising personal responsibility since the economic reform in the late 1970s, the state has restricted its responsibility to that of mainly looking after deprived groups and relied more on the responsibility of the individual or the family in the care of older people in urban China. With substantial economic growth in recent decades, should the state endorse collective intervention to enhance the livelihood of older people who have contributed to the country in the past and to mitigate the demographic and socio-economic impacts on the care support for older people? On the other hand, given the improved financial conditions, how do the present-day older generation see their own and the state’s responsibility for old-age support? In search of a better understanding of the responsibility issue in old-age care, qualitative semi-structured interviews with older people in urban cities were conducted with views supplemented by other stakeholders. Older people’s perception of the state to have a responsibility to look after them, as shown in the findings, might reflect their readiness to assert their rights to state care as a recognition of their past contributions to the rapid economic growth as well as their insecure feeling in the face of future uncertainty when the function of the family and the neighbourhood continues to decline. This points to the fact that the state should re-examine its welfare philosophy to reflect the demographic and socio-economic reality which demands its greater share of responsibility in a transitional economy.

Chinese welfare philosophy, Old-age care, Welfare responsibility
Public Policy and Public Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Pui Ling Ada Cheung

Senior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Hong Kong
Hong Kong