The son also acts as major caregiver to elderly parents : a study of the sandwich generation in Hong Kong

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Journal article

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Current Sociology

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Caregiver, Hong Kong, Sandwich generation, Son


This article investigates the care support pattern of the middle-aged sandwich generation towards their elderly parents. Unlike most western reports, Hong Kong adult sons reveal an active participation in the actual behaviour of care of their elderly parents, especially in financial and emotional support - not much less than their female sibling counterparts. This article further compares the perception of care responsibility from the receiver's vs the giver's perspective. The results show consistent findings between values towards elderly care and actual care behaviours received from the parents' side, in which the sons are expected and are acting as the major caregiver, much more so than the daughters. However, inconsistent results are found regarding the major responsibility towards various family members between the two generations. Adult children tend to take their own children (or the third generation) as the top priority of their family responsibilities, while elderly parents come in second and their own spouse comes third. The pattern of elderly support in Hong Kong is argued to be a product of patriarchal norms within a changing gendered societal context. The author contends that the pattern can be explained by the interaction of blood relations with a gendered division of labour.



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Kwok, H.-k. (2006). The son also acts as major caregiver to elderly parents: A study of the sandwich generation in Hong Kong. Current Sociology, 54(2), 257-272. doi: 10.1177/0011392106056745