Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Many Of China’s 140 Million Old People Find The Crowd To Be Lonely

Date:
January 21, 2009
Source:
Durham University
Summary:
China has 20 per cent of the world’s population with 1.4 billion people – but China’s rapid economic and social change has caused its pensioners to feel lonely and alienated, a new study suggests.

China has 20 per cent of the world’s population with 1.4 billion people – but China’s rapid economic and social change has caused its pensioners to feel lonely and alienated, a new study suggests.

Related Articles


Although capitalism has brought prosperity and increased political power to China, it has also caused the weakening of a traditional society that had collectivism and strong family ties at its heart.

The study by Durham University and the University of Reading, published in Ageing and Society, examined in detail two surveys of Chinese people aged 60 years and over in 1992 and 2000 (1). The percentage of older people who said they were lonely has doubled from about 16% in 1992 to 30% in 2000.

While loneliness can severely impact a person’s quality of life, it can also be a triggering factor for mental health issues. The findings suggest that policy makers in China need to take urgent action to assess what is needed to improve the quality of life for its 140 million older people, who collectively amount to the largest older population in the world.

The Durham and Reading University study suggests potential causes for loneliness include a widespread move since the late1970s from highly collectivised communities, where several generations lived under one roof in close proximity to their neighbours, to communities dominated by the nuclear family, many living in impersonal city apartment blocks.

Under the collectivised system in rural areas, communes, brigades and teams were not only responsible for agricultural production but many other community affairs, meaning a high level of social interaction for all.

In today’s economic climate, sons and daughters are more likely to have moved long distances from the country to the city or from one city to another in search of work, often leaving their parents behind. They can work long hours, juggling childcare with the demands of full-time work, and although they send money home, visits can be infrequent. The single-child policy means that older people are increasingly left without a selection of offspring for company and care in their old age.

Lead study author Dr Keming Yang, a Durham University sociologist who hails from China’s third largest city, Tianjin, said: “While economic development has brought many benefits for China, such as money, increased political power and better standards of living, loneliness is one of its negative effects.

“Mao has been roundly criticised for many aspects of his leadership but - like it or not - the way the society was structured at the time effectively provided opportunities for a high level of social interaction, either good or bad.

“There was a lack of competition and a slower pace of life where people had more control over their schedule. Members of the community tended to attend long meetings where they would talk to others about not merely business but personal issues as well.”

But the study authors point out that more detailed research is needed to obtain a more accurate picture outlining the extent of the loneliness problem: Dr Yang added: “While concentrating on economic advancement it is easy to ignore the wider social effects of a richer but more competitive society.

“Experience of capitalist societies to date suggests it is very likely that many other sections of the population, especially young people who are under huge amounts of pressure at school and home, are feeling the same sense of isolation.”

Co-author Professor Christina Victor, of the University of Reading, said: “Levels of loneliness in China are now comparable, or higher than, those observed in Western Europe; therefore, this is not just a problem seen in developed countries.”

Dr Yang said a potential solution for the Chinese authorities to tackle loneliness in the old was to ensure the local community played a greater role in engaging older people in social and group activities, although this would require some financial support.

Footnote:

(1) The surveys used for the study were the Survey of the Support System for the Elderly in China (1992) and the Survey of the Aged Population in China (2,000). Differences in the design of the two studies mean they can not be used as an exact comparison but they are the best statistical indication to date of the problem of loneliness.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Durham University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Durham University. "Many Of China’s 140 Million Old People Find The Crowd To Be Lonely." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121092405.htm>.
Durham University. (2009, January 21). Many Of China’s 140 Million Old People Find The Crowd To Be Lonely. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121092405.htm
Durham University. "Many Of China’s 140 Million Old People Find The Crowd To Be Lonely." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090121092405.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Tryptophan Isn't Making You Sleepy On Thanksgiving

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — Tryptophan, a chemical found naturally in turkey meat, gets blamed for sleepiness after Thanksgiving meals. But science points to other culprits. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins