Correcting Cross-Cultural Stereotypes: Aging in Shanghai and Canada
- Cite this article as:
- Chappell, N.L. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology (2003) 18: 127. doi:10.1023/A:1025156501588
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This paper challenges common belief that the aging experience is primarily different for seniors in Asia and those in western cultures. The examination reveals that there are many differences in the life situation of seniors living in mainland China and those living in Canada, with Shanghais seniors living in much greater poverty, with much less education and typically not alone when compared to Canadian seniors whether they be of Chinese origin or not. The Shanghais are also in worse health and perceive themselves to be in worse health. However, when examining the predictors of subjective quality of life, life satisfaction, in both cultures it is social support and health that predict life satisfaction. The form that social support takes (the importance of sons is clearly evident in Shanghai, whereas spouses are more important in Canada) and the particular physical health problems that one might suffer from differ across cultures but it is social support and health that appear to be universal in their affects on our subjective quality of life. Similarly when examining caregivers there are many differences evident across the cultures but when examining subjective burden in both cultures it is the deteriorated health of the care receiver that is the major predictor of burden. The data suggest that there are cross-cultural universals, with particularistic forms.