Accepted paper:

Competing interests, spatial disruption and moral dilemmas - Intergenerational care in rural-urban labour migrant families in China

Authors:

Anni Kajanus (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the practical challenges, competing interests, and moral dilemmas involved in the major transformation of elderly care in China, through the inter-generational negotiations of care provision in labour-migrant families.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the practical challenges, competing interests, and moral dilemmas involved in the major transformation of elderly care in China. The cycle of giving and receiving care in the family is at the core of Chinese kinship, and its significance has further increased in the recent decades. The one child policy and mass rural-urban labour migration have disrupted the patrilineal cycle of care, in which sons paid back the debt of parental care by providing for their parents in old age, while daughters transferred the debt to their in-laws. In the context of the rapidly ageing population and the neoliberalist authoritarian regime that renders people reliant on family networks for social security, it is the temporary labour migrants and their families, who face some of the greatest challenges in re-organizing the inter-generational flows of support. The challenges include the spatial and social separation of families, as most working-age people live in the cities, while the elderly stay behind in the villages; the transformation of gendered roles and obligations in the family; as well as the competing demands of investing into the future of the only child, and providing care for the elderly. Examining the inter-generational negotiations over retirement; practical care in spatially separated families; the number of children in the family, and so forth, also brings to light the shifts in kinship hierarchies that take place with spatial mobility.

panel P079
Staying, moving, (re)settling: transitioning practices, actors and places of care in later life [Age and Generations Network]