Breakdown in family support

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 July, 2009, 12:00am

Traditional Chinese ideas that children should support their elderly parents appear to be breaking down, a poll by a bank has indicated.

More than half the respondents to a survey of 2,139 Hongkongers in May said parents should be financially independent after retirement and not rely on their children.

Only 29 per cent of respondents expressed a willingness to support their parents and 68 per cent would not expect support from their own children. The survey by Citibank found that an overwhelming majority would take care of their children before their parents.

The bank's director of insurance, Emily Cheung Chi-ting, attributed the unwillingness to support parents to the trend of nuclear families consisting of just parents and children replacing the old extended family.

The married and middle-aged are less committed to supporting their parents, with only a quarter of interviewees aged between 40 and 49 - and 26 per cent of married people - thinking children should support their parents unconditionally. But a third of young people agreed children should be committed to parents in their retirement, 11 percentage points higher than the middle-aged.

Head of research Chow Wai-kit said the burden of raising children might have dampened people's willingness to support their parents.

He said people were now more willing to provide financial support to their children than to parents, quoting the figure that about 90 per cent of the interviewees who are married with children said they would support their unemployed children.

The figure showing that young people were more committed to supporting their parents had surprised him, he said.

But this could be because they were still supported by their parents and had not yet faced the reality of family financial burdens.

Money matters

The proportion of retirees who rely on their own savings: 57%