Dynamics of Chinese Shidu Parents’ Vulnerability in Old Age –A Qualitative Study

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Shidu is a Chinese word, referring to a group of bereaved parents who were subject to the One-Child Policy and whose only child has died. Living in a society where care for older people largely relies on adult children, Shidu parents can be highly vulnerable due to losing an only child who may be their primary resource for old age security. Despite the noticeable rise of Shidu families in China, these vulnerable parents have often been overlooked in society and neglected by government policies. This article adopts a qualitative approach to analyse interviews with 15 older Shidu parents and four support professionals, capturing dynamic experiences of these parents’ vulnerability in grief, elderly care and end-of-life care. Through a sociological lens, these Shidu parents are found to have adapted, revised and even rejected the status quo to cope with significant gaps in support and to negotiate for more meaningful support for their old age. This dynamic but distressing picture has also revealed a lack of ongoing structures that can effectively address these older Shidu parents’ multifaceted and changing needs. Based on the findings, recommendations are made aiming to inform future practice and policymaking for older Shidu parents.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Population Ageing
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2020


  • Ageing
  • Grief
  • Elderly care
  • End of life care
  • Shidu
  • China

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health(social science)
  • Cultural Studies


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