Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 255–275 | Cite as

“I Am the Only Child of my Parents:” Perspectives on Future Elder Care for Parents among Chinese only-Children Living overseas



The 1979 One­Child Policy in China created a generation of only children, leading to increased elder care dilemmas for this generation and its aging parents, particularly for young adults studying or working abroad. The current study used in-depth, semi­structured interviews with Chinese young adults who were currently studying or working in Montreal, Canada (N = 20), whose parents still lived in China. The interviews focused on the following topics: elder care patterns of respondents’ grandparents; family values and expectations; perceptions of professional long-term care institutions (in China and Canada); and future plans for taking care of aging parents. Respondents described their grandparents’ care as following traditional elder care patterns with multiple familial caregivers, which they appreciated as a positive model that defined their own obligations towards parents. Respondents reported being very close to their parents. Some planned to settle down in Canada and bring their parents, others planned to go back to China. Citing the tradition of filial piety, they expected to take care of their parents in the future, but they also considered the dilemmas involved in caring for aging parents without siblings to share the task, potentially requiring them to find compromises between their personal lives and caring for older parents. Those who planned to settle in Canada raised additional concerns about the challenges of bringing over their parents, including acculturation and access to and communication with health and long-term care providers. The results are discussed in the context of contemporary demographic, economic, and policy concerns about aging, family care, and immigration.


Aging China Elder care Filial piety Future plans Immigration 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Criminology & LawUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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