Filial piety is the concept of respecting you parents and elders and has been a core element of Confucianism in China for thousands of years. Respecting this concept usually meant that the elderly would live out their old age with the care of children and grandchildren. Conflict between the modernisation of China as well as the respecting of traditions however has been particularly prevalent in this area. The population of elderly within china (60 and over) is the largest in the world and has reached an estimated 128 million, equivalent to one in every ten people. This is estimated to reach around 400 million people by 2050. Every year approximately 3 million people retire in China yet only 15% of these have a form of pension. For the rest there is no national social security system so family is the only option. The conflict with modernisation occurs however as increased migration of younger generations and longer working hours has led to issues of neglect and abandonment of the elderly. The outsourcing of care to nursing homes has been seen as a form of combating this issue, yet due to the magnitude of this issue estimates now presume there are only ten nursing home beds for every thousand elderly people who need them in China.
New government propaganda and laws have aimed to tackle this issue by utilising the notion of filial piety and have stated it is one of the core values in creating a ‘harmonious society’. Programmes and awards ceremonies such as the Chinese Filial piety Awards Ceremony held annually attempt to emphasise the importance. New employment laws also attempt to address the issue, for instance government employees in Changyuan County in Henan Province have to illustrate good care for their parents as well as working hard if they wish to earn a promotion. Critics claim however that the filial piety scheme is only a cover for the government failing to take public responsibility for the care of china’s elderly populations. They claim that to uphold the tradition of filial piety the government needs to found a national social security programme to care for the elderly.