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Thematic Issues
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VOLUME 6 (2004), ISSUE 11 (YEARLY)






Filial piety has been regarded as an ancient virtue of the Chinese and is central to the social organization and governance of Chinese society. Recent changes of filial piety in Chinese societies (Hong Kong and Beijing) revealed that they have brought on far-reaching implications on elder care policies and the share model between family and state on elderly care.

Three core changes of traditional virtue of filial piety have been noted, including reverence and respects for, absolute obedience and material and emotional support to parents. Nowadays, parents are still highly respected but their social statuses are declining. Parents and children tend to have a more equal relationship and children are not required to abide by the opinion of their parents. Regarding the material and emotional support, it is not an absolute duty for children to provide all the material needs of their parents. Moreover, it was found that emotional support is gradually more imperative for the elderly persons in Hong Kong while material and financial support are more important in Beijing.

All the above changes give rise to replacement services by other social support networks. This has been more evident as society advances, as shown by the differences observed between Beijing and Hong Kong. However, it is believed that the emotional support of the elderly persons could not be easily replaced. Elderly persons still have the expectations that they can be cared and accompanied by their children, especially in their later life. In sum, it is recommended that filial piety should be conserved and carried forward in a way or another in nowadays Chinese societies. 


Filial Piety - Chinese Family - Family Care 


Alfred Cheung-Ming CHAN is Professor at the Department of Politics and Sociology and the Director of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Ageing Studies of Lingnan University, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong.

Maggie Yim LIN is PhD candidate, Centre of Population and Development Studies, Renmin University of China, Beijing.


This article is a revised version of a paper presented at The First International Conference of The Social Capital Foundation, held in Brussels, Belgium, on May 12-13, 2004.


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