Monday, July 01, 2013

China's Baby Boomer Act

Today is the first day of China's Senior Rights Protection Act (SRPA) becoming effective. While China has steadfastly stepped into a silver society, seniors are busy making laws to accommodate their retirement life, conveniently with their largest population body.

China's Baby Boomer time starts in the 1950s with the ending of almost 100 years of continuous wars, and peaked in the 1960s during the Great Cultural Revolution while the government encouraged birth for more labors. Family planning started in early '70s to address the job pressure and came into full throttle in the '80s. Today most Chinese parents in cities raise only one child despite loosening regulation on family planning.

The SRPA Act mandates family members to provide material as well as mental and spiritual needs of seniors. Those who do not reside with seniors must visit 'frequently'. While financial obligation to elder family members had been regulated in Marriage Act and the Constitution, this is the first time non-monetary caring being elevated to a legal duty.

It's not a co-incident that China's economy is sailing into stagnant water. In the past 20 years or so, young Chinese worked with literally no saving plans except their housing investment. In general, housing in China is much more pricier than comparable dwellings in the US because of a distorted market which is used as an ATM by local governments. If the housing market collapses, a whole generation of Chinese will find themselves shirtless after working like a dog for two decades. Promoting traditional family value and community ties is a subtle way to build another layer of safety net.

The Implementation could be a problem, though, no only because of the vague wordings used in the SRPA such as 'frequently'. Would once a year be considered 'frequent'?

Another distinct stigma of the current Chinese society is the 'empty nest' phenomena, where hundreds of millions of rural youth find jobs in remote cities hundreds miles away, leaving their aging parents behind. Almost everyone of them have been trying their best to get home on the annual Spring Festival's eve, thus the infamous 'Spring Crazy' for public transportation in February. However, it's hard to say how long will they keep observing this tradition, when they are getting older and more rooted in cities.

For city residents, many have their kids living overseas. Would Chinese civil code apply to US citizens? What about permanent residents?

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