China’s Rich Opt for Luxury Nursing Homes Over Filial Obligations for Aging Parents

    In a trend that reverses the Confucian tradition of filial piety, a new report finds that there's been an 87 percent spike in interest in senior living communities among China's rich.
    Detail from the from the Song dynasty painting <i>Illustrations of the Classic of Filial Piety</i>. (Wikimedia Commons)
    Liz FloraAuthor
      Published   in Lifestyle

    It’s long been a Confucian ethic entrenched in Chinese society that when elderly parents reach the point where they can’t take care of themselves, they will be cared for by their children. For China’s high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), however, this is rapidly changing as demand rises for expensive elderly care homes.

    According to a new report by Hurun on retirement planning for China’s elderly HNWIs, preference for senior living communities has grown by 87 percent in the past year. A total of 28 percent of HNWIs have listed “medium- to high-end elderly care homes” as their personal post-retirement plan, marking a jump from 15 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, the percentage of those planning on “home retirement” has declined from 77 percent in 2015 to 57 percent in 2016.

    In addition, the report finds that younger rich individuals in particular don’t seem to be planning on their own children taking care of them when they’re older, as the percentage of those under the age of 35 with interest in senior living communities when they’re older increased from 17 percent last year to 39 percent this year.

    According to the Hurun survey, this dramatic change is happening for several reasons. The Confucian idea of filial piety which dictates that children must provide for their parents in old age is “waning” as China’s rich pursue greater independence after retirement. They’re also increasingly aware of the intense pressures being put on only children born under the One Child Policy, and are expressing a desire not to burden their offspring. In addition, the survey finds they’re more concerned about finding a facility that will be able to provide adequate healthcare services that wouldn't be available around the clock if they live with their children.

    This turn away from traditional filial obligations actually means China’s wealthy “silver generation” is “optimistic” about breaking free from children, says the report. These active seniors plan to lead “colorful and relaxed” lives after retirement with a great deal of travel. Statistics have shown that demand for travel is already high for those over the age of 50 in China, with a 2015 survey by Ctrip finding that 87 percent of them said they “definitely” plan to travel.

    While more wealthy aging parents may be living away from their children, they're still getting a significant amount of support from them. For now, the cost of post-retirement healthcare and living is being taken care of by a combination of the parents’ savings (37 percent) funding from their children (30 percent) and social insurance (30 percent), with commercial insurance only funding around 2 percent.

    Discover more
    Daily BriefAnalysis, news, and insights delivered to your inbox.