Home > Publications . Search All . Browse All . Country . Browse PSC Pubs . PSC Report Series

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Stephenson says homophobia among gay men raises risk of intimate partner violence

Frey says having more immigrants with higher birth rates fills need in the US

Inglehart's work on the rise of populism cited in NYT

More News

Highlights

Savolainen wins Outstanding Contribution Award for study of how employment affects recidivism among past criminal offenders

Giving Blueday at ISR focuses on investing in the next generation of social scientists

Pfeffer and Schoeni cover the economic and social dimensions of wealth inequality in this special issue

PRB Policy Communication Training Program for PhD students in demography, reproductive health, population health

More Highlights

Next Brown Bag

Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at noon:
H. Luke Shaefer

Aging, Social Change, and Elderly Well-Being in Rural China: Insights from Mixed-Methods Village Research

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Download PDF versionLowry, Deborah. 2009. "Aging, Social Change, and Elderly Well-Being in Rural China: Insights from Mixed-Methods Village Research." PSC Research Report No. 09-691. October 2009.

Studies of population aging and elderly well-being are often approached from a macro-economic perspective that evaluates national capacity to meet age-based healthcare and services need. This paper is based on the premise that to evaluate better the ability of government and families to fulfill the material needs of a growing elderly population, a clear and holistic understanding of those needs is necessary. Because later-life needs and expectations are situated within the context of complex social conditions and individual lives, research from the “ground-level” is needed to complement those macro-level studies of population aging and elderly well-being. This paper explores the experiences of growing old in China from the perspective of elders living in a southwestern rural Fujian community. Evidence from focus groups, a household survey, and in-depth interviews shows that these elders assess their present conditions and future needs in light of their biographies, many of which include long-term experiences of physical and economic hardship. Respondents’ desires for current and future material support are rudimentary and consist mainly of food and basic clothing. Need for companionship is often met through peer socialization or, when junior family members are away, through telephone communication. However, social comparison is prevalent and elders whose families have not “kept up” by building a large new homes or acquiring other conspicuous household items may experience shame and psychological distress. Comparison of village-level resources also produces dissatisfaction. This paper argues that (cohort-based) biographical experience and material expectations and (period-related) levels of inequality deserve further attention alongside (age-focused) studies of elderly well-being amidst population aging. These implications are relevant not only for generating theories of elderly well-being in rural China, but for other settings in which population aging is accompanied by rapid social change and inequalities.

Country of focus: China.

Browse | Search : All Pubs | Next