Provinces mandate ‘senior-care vacation time’ for only children


A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for August 7, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

China News reports (in Chinese) that the provinces of Henan, Fujian, Guangxi, and Hainan mandate annual leave from work for only children to take care of the elderly in their families, which they are calling a “care vacation” (护理假 hùlǐ jià).

Henan offers the longest leave at 20 days, while Fujian, Guangxi, and Hainan grant 10 days. Similar policies are under consideration in the provinces of Sichuan and Hubei, and the municipality of Chongqing.

The policies are part of China’s strategy to provide the growing elderly population with better care, as most seniors only have one child because of the decades-long birth control policy, and neither the state nor private companies are yet able to provide elder care to China’s massive silver-haired population: The latest stats (in Chinese) released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs suggest that by the end of 2016, the number of Chinese people older than 60 exceeded 230 million, accounting for roughly 16.7 percent of the country’s entire population.

According to a law amended in 2015 to further protect the rights and interests of the elderly, family members are obliged to be filial and to pay attention to the mental needs of the aged. For those who don’t live with their parents, regular visits are required.

“Coming from the generation of one-child families, we are facing massive pressure to support our parents. On the one hand, we need to grapple with the fast pace of work. On the other hand, as our parents are aging, we need to spend more time taking care of them,” one person born in the 1980s told (in Chinese) China News. “After I get married and have my own kid, the family structure will become ‘4-2-1.’ It’s hard to support four seniors.”

Online, many internet users applauded the news, stating that other parts of China should adopt similar policies, while others worried about unintended consequences: “When it comes to employment, it means that we only children will face more discrimination,” one commenter wrote (in Chinese).