While hundreds of millions of Chinese families toasted the new year together, 84-year-old He Daxing huddled on the doorstep of his daughter’s home in Chongqing. On the most important date in the calendar, not one of his six grown children – born before the country’s one-child policy was imposed – would take him in. Filial piety is so embedded here that officials offered to help him sue his offspring when he fell ill after four nights outside: Chinese law requires adults to support their parents. Yet his case shows that traditional ideals are under growing pressure in a fast-changing, increasingly individualistic society. China may soon have more He Daxings. It faces a soaring number of old people and a shrinking number of young adults, who are also less able – and sometimes less willing – to support their elders. Life expectancy has soared in China, while fertility has plummeted due to strict birth control policies. In 2009 there were 167 million over-60s, about an eighth of the population. By 2050 there will be 480 million, while the number of young people will have fallen. “It’s a timebomb,” warned Wang Feng of the Brookings-Tsinghua Centre for Public Policy in Beijing. China’s… Read full this story
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