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Family life in modern China(4)

Posted by Author on August 27, 2006

Marijke van der Meer, Radio Netherlands, 22-08-2006– (cont’d)

As in the West, some young urban professionals, including women, are opting to remain single, while some couples settle on being “dinkies” (double-income-no-kids), and there is more divorce, particularly in the cities. The 2001 revision of the family law reformed the legal position of divorce, simplifying the procedure. Melody Lu says marriage is no longer a life-long thing but a contract between two individuals. “It’s easier for urban people to treat marriage as a contract, but in the rural area there is still the cultural stigmatisation”, Lu points out, “You have more trouble finding a new partner. In fact a lot of divorced women have to migrate to find another husband, because it is very difficult to remarry in the same locality.” Furthermore, because of the continuing importance of the father-son axis, an only son is likely to be placed under the custody of his father, not his mother.

Change, not decline

All in all, family life in China is changing but is not by any means in decline. There is more emphasis on personal choice and freedom, more equality of the sexes, and there is an even stronger bond between parents and children than under the collective security of the Maoist era. Parents are prepared to make huge sacrifices for their children, partly because “always in the back of their mind is old age security”, says Melody Lu.

The fact that it is the daughter-in-law that is usually the primary provider of care for the elderly has also changed the status and value of women within the family. And even though the trend is towards a smaller family unit, the proverbial Chinese family business is one institution that continues to thrive. Chinese family businesses account for one-third of the names on the Fortune-500 list of the world’s biggest companies. (END)

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One Response to “Family life in modern China(4)”

  1. sherry said

    very good info, but i need more, prisons, income/cost living, everything that happens in life.

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