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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

6 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Research in Quality of Life
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)3069-3090
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Chinese philosophy
  • Comparison of Denmark and China
  • Filial piety
  • Generativity
  • Intergenerational encounters and wellbeing
  • Interpretative philosophical analysis
  • Loneliness
  • Older adults


Dive into the research topics of 'Filial Piety, Generativity and Older Adults’ Wellbeing and Loneliness in Denmark and China'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this