Filial Piety, Generativity and Older Adults’ Wellbeing and Loneliness in Denmark and China

Puxiang Ren, Jakob Emiliussen, Regina Christiansen, Søren Engelsen, Søren Harnow Klausen*


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The article considers the potential of intergenerational encounters and family and
social ties for alleviating loneliness and promoting older adults’ wellbeing. Loneliness
has been widely recognized as one of the factors that are most deeply and pervasively
detrimental to older adults’ wellbeing. We combine theoretical reflections
with a comparative study of older adults in Denmark and China. Both countries have
to deal with an aging population and growing number of cases of isolation and loneliness
in an increasingly individualized society. They differ, however, with regard
to how far they have developed a system of institutionalized care, as well as with
regard to their culture-specific views of family life and parent-child relationships.
We apply the notions of filial piety, known from Confucian philosophy but often
misinterpreted as conservative and conformist, and generativity, to qualitative studies of older adults in Denmark and China. The great potential of intergenerational ties is confirmed. Our study also shows that filial piety is still highly valued, in both China and Denmark, and can be maintained even in a highly individualized society. There is, however, considerable uncertainty among both older adults and their younger relatives as to what is required and what can be expected; realism, and an emphasis on the quality, rather than the quantity of interaction, may be sensible coping strategies, but can also lead to unnecessary acquiescence and self-abnegation. Our study also serves to distinguish different aspects and effects on wellbeing of
intergenerational relationships.
TidsskriftApplied Research in Quality of Life
Udgave nummer5
Sider (fra-til)3069-3090
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2022


  • Generativitet
  • Forældre-børn relationer
  • Ældres velbefindende i Kina og Danmark


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