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The China Challenge

Huhua Cao
Vivienne Poy

The chinese diaspora and immigration in Canada

Chapter 14. Transnational Intergenerational Support: Implications of Aging in Mainland China for the Chinese in Canada

Ghazy Mujahid, Ann H. Kim et Guida C. Man

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1This chapter explores the potential impacts of population aging in mainland China on patterns and experiences of caring among Chinese immigrants in Canada, particularly women. (Throughout the rest of this chapter, references to “China” are to mainland China, excluding Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, except where otherwise stated.) We situate the study in the literature on transnational, globalized and flexible families, concepts that refer to the separation of family members who preserve a sense of familyhood across national borders, and to the internationalization of the household (see Bryceson and Vuorela 2002 and Douglass 2006). Definitions of the transnational family and of global householding are suitably broad, and encompass multiple family forms, including families with adult children in Canada, and their own children and aging parents in China.

2Over the past twenty years we have observed the burgeoning of the literature on Chinese “astronaut” families and “parachute” children, demonstrating how this transnational family form affects family relationships and individual members in both positive and negative ways (see Alaggia, Chau, and Tsang 2001, Aye and Guerin 2001, Gardner 2006, Ho 1999, Irving, Benjamin, and Tsang 2000, Lam 1994, Landolt and Da 2005, Man 1995a and 2007, McKeown 2000, Ong 1992 and 1998, Preston, Kobayashi, and Man 2006, Preston, Kobayashi, and Siemiatycki 2006, Pribilsky 2004, Salaff, Shik, and Greve 2008, Siemiatycki and Preston 2007, Skeldon 1994, Tsang et al. 2003, Waters 2002, 2003, and 2005, Wong and Ho 2006, and Zhou 1998). However, more recently, the Chinese transnational family has shifted to a pattern in which working-age immigrants leave aging parents in China and also leave, or send back, their young children (see Da 2003, Liu 2008, and Man 2002, 2004, and 2008). It is their experiences that form the focus of this chapter. In particular, we examine intergenerational relations among Chinese immigrants, focusing on the evolving gamut of mutual care and support mechanisms that take place across borders.

Population Aging in China

3The proportion of seniors in the population of China has been increasing rapidly since the beginning of the 21st century (see Table 14.1). While this demographic change is happening in almost every country, in China it has been more marked due to the decline in fertility as a result of the one-child policy, combined with the impact of rapid improvements in health care facilities on increased longevity. Between 1970 and 2010 China’s population has increased from 816 million to 1.35 billion, that is, by around a little over 530 million. While the child population (between zero and fourteen years) declined from forty to twenty percent, the working-age population (between fifteen and sixty-four years) increased from fifty-six to seventy-two percent. The population of seniors also increased from 4.3 to 8.2 percent. The decline in the child population is explained by the decline in the number of births, from an estimated annual average of 25 million in the early 1970s to the current annual average of 18 million. The increasing proportion of seniors is explained by the increase in life expectancy at birth from sixty years in 1970 to seventy-three years in 2010 (see United Nations 2008).

4The demographic trends during the next forty years are projected to be quite different. Population is projected to increase at a much slower rate, and to start declining after 2030. The total population is projected at 1.42 billion in 2050, that is, at only around 70 million more than the total as of 2010. By 2050, the number of births is projected to decline to an annual average of 14 to 15 million. The long-drawn decline in the birth rate is finally projected to start affecting the size of the working-age population, the proportion of which is projected to decline from seventy-two percent in 2010 to sixty-one percent by 2050. Seniors are the only section of China’s population whose proportion within the total population is projected to increase over the next forty years, from eight percent in 2010 to more than twenty-three percent by 2050. The number of seniors in China increased from 35 million in 1970 to 111 million in 2010, and is projected to increase to 330 million by 2050: the increment during the next forty years is thus projected to be almost three times the increment during the past forty years.

Table 14.1 Trends in Age Groups within the Population of Mainland China, 1970–2000, with Projections for 2010–2025

Table 14.1 Trends in Age Groups within the Population of Mainland China, 1970–2000, with Projections for 2010–2025

Source: United Nations 2009

5The increasing proportion of seniors in the total population and their increasing numbers can be explained by further increments in life expectancy, which is projected to increase to almost eighty years by 2050 as a result of continuing improvements in lifestyle and health services. Both the proportion of the total population expected to survive to age sixty-five years and the number of years a senior is expected to live on average are projected to increase over the next forty years (see Table 14.2). Within the cohort of seniors the percentage of those reaching eighty years and the average number of years they can be expected to live after reaching age eighty years are also projected to go up (see United Nations 2008).

6These projected demographic trends, if the projections are realized, would result in a larger number of seniors leading longer and healthier lives. One remarkable reflection of this projected trend is the projected increase in the population of centenarians, from an estimated 33,000 in 2010 to 450,000 in 2050 (see United Nations 2009).

Table 14.2 Indicators of Longevity in Mainland China in 2007, with Projections for 2025 and 2050




Life expectancy at birth (years)




Proportion expected to reach age 65 (%)




Life expectancy at age 65 (years)




Proportion expected to reach age 80 (%)




Life expectancy at age 80 (years)




Source: United Nations 2008

7The significance of these projected changes in the age structure of China’s population for the family structure is reflected in changes in the parent– support ratio, which is the ratio of the number of seniors aged eighty-five years or more per 100 persons aged between fifty and sixty-four years (see Figure 14.1). Those aged eighty-five years and more are assumed to be the hypothetical parents of the population aged fifty to sixty-four years, that is, those who were born to them when they were in their twenties and thirties. The parent–support ratio indicates the approximate trend in the percentage of the population aged fifty to sixty-four years whose parents are living.

Figure 14.1 Parent–Support Ratios in Mainland China, 1970–2000, with Projections for 2010–2050 (%)

Figure 14.1 Parent–Support Ratios in Mainland China, 1970–2000, with Projections for 2010–2050 (%)

Source: United Nations 2009

8The increase in the parent–support ratio over the forty years from 2010 to 2050 is projected to be much larger than the increase over the preceding forty years from 1970 to 2010 was. While the proportion of those aged fifty to sixty-four years having elderly parents increased from 1.4 percent in 1970 to 3.4 percent in 2010, it is projected to increase to 14.9 percent by 2050. Demographic evidence thus strongly indicates that increasing proportions of the Chinese already in Canada and of future immigrants will have elderly parents.

9Another characteristic of the population of elderly parents is the higher proportion of women than of men, because women have longer life expectancy. In 2010, among China’s population of those aged eighty-five years and older, there were 170 women for every 100 men, and this ratio is projected to remain almost unchanged until 2050. Further, a majority of these elderly people, and a larger majority of the women, are widowed. The Census of China conducted in 2000 showed that fifty percent of the men and eighty percent of the women aged eighty years and over were widowed (see China Center for Research on Aging 2007). A much higher proportion of senior women than of senior men is therefore projected to become dependent on offspring and other relatives.

Chinese Immigration to Canada after 1947

10Chinese immigration into Canada was banned by the Canadian government under the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, which remained in force until 1947. Following its repeal, while Chinese immigrants came to Canada from Taiwan, Hong Kong and other countries, emigration from China itself remained restricted as a result of the “closed door” policy of the newly established Communist regime. Two significant events during the 1970s paved the way for a resumption of migration from China to Canada: the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and China in 1970, and the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, following the death of Mao Zedong. Although emigration from China to Canada started following the establishment of diplomatic relations, it was not until after the rise of Deng Xiaoping to power in 1978 that China moved towards an “open door” policy, which eased the mobility of its citizens.

11During the first ten years following the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and China, only 600 citizens from China emigrated to Canada (see Rafael 2007). Immigration then gathered pace during the 1980s and continued to increase after that (see Figure 14.2). Since 1998 China has been the single largest source country of migrants to Canada. The second highest number of immigrants to Canada has been from India, and the gap between the two has been narrowing, but the number of migrants from China exceeded those from India by more than 34,000 during the period from 2005 to 2008 (CIC 2009).

12The growing inflows of migrants have contributed to a rapid increase in the population of Chinese in Canada. From a total of 119,000 in 1971, the number of Chinese in Canada increased to 289,000 in 1981 and to 634,000 in 1991 (see Li 2007). The Censuses of 1996 and 2001 showed that the Chinese population in Canada had increased to 860,000 by the former year and to 1.03 million by the latter year, while the Census of 2006 gave a total of 1.22 million Chinese in Canada based on visible minority counts. Given that 557,000 immigrants from China entered Canada between 1970 and 2006, migrants from China constituted roughly forty-five percent of the total Chinese population in Canada in 2006, and their proportion has presumably increased since then, as more than eighty percent of Chinese immigrants who entered Canada in 2007 and 2008 came from the mainland (CIC 2009).

Figure 14.2 Chinese Immigrants to Canada by Place of Origin, 1980–2006

Figure 14.2 Chinese Immigrants to Canada by Place of Origin, 1980–2006

Source: CIC 2009

13According to the Census of 2006, the population of immigrants from China in Canada stands at more than 450,000 (see Table 14.3). Around seventeen percent are under the age of twenty-five years and a slightly higher proportion, nineteen percent, are aged sixty-five years or older, giving the Chinese immigrant population in Canada a much older age structure than that of China itself. These immigrants are geographically concentrated in Toronto (forty-one percent), with Vancouver being a close second destination. While Montreal is the third largest city of immigrants from China in Canada, it has attracted a much smaller number, with just over 16,000 immigrants.

14A large proportion of this immigrant population as of 2006 were recent arrivals, with well over half having arrived since 1996. Most had arrived as working-age adults (forty-nine percent were aged twenty-five to forty-four years), but the relatively large presence of immigrants forty-five years or older (twenty-one percent) suggests that many immigrants from China were sponsored family members, given that very few points are awarded to applicants over the age of fifty years in Canada’s immigration point system.

15While this profile informs us of the general characteristics of the Chinese immigrant population, it does not provide detailed information on migration trends by age groups. For data on this matter we may turn to the Public Use Microdata File of Individuals, a 2.7 percent sample of the Canadian Census of 2006. Cross-tabulating age at arrival with period of arrival (see Table 14.4) shows how the ages of immigrants from China have changed over time.

16It seems clear that since 1970 Canada has attracted older immigrants, who are likely to have fewer children of their own; that since 1981 there has been a steady increase in the arrival of working-age adults (twenty-five to forty-nine years); and that since 1990 fewer seniors as a proportion have been migrating. These trends suggest that more and more immigrants may belong to the “sandwich” generation, that is, they are adults supporting both children and elderly parents, and face various challenges while caring for aging parents (and sometimes children) in China.

17Given the strong family structure, intergenerational relations and filial piety in Chinese culture, one can expect that an increasing number of immigrants coming to Canada will have to maintain strong links with elderly parents in China. Further, as the offspring of the one-child policy come of age, an increasing proportion of China’s adult population migrating to Canada will fit into the “four–two–one” family pattern of one adult supporting two parents and four grandparents. Being the only child increases the responsibilities of filial piety.

Table 14.3 Selected Characteristics of Immigrants from Mainland China to Canada, 2006


Total number









Age group

Under 25 years



25 to 44 years



45 to 54 years



55 to 64 years



65 years and over



Period of immigration

Before 1991












Age at immigration

Under 25 years



25 to 44 years



45 years and over




Only Canadian






Only non-Canadian
















Source: Statistics Canada, 2006a

Table 14.4 Age at Arrival of Samples of Immigrants from Mainland China to Canada, by Period of Arrival, as Reported in 2006

Table 14.4 Age at Arrival of Samples of Immigrants from Mainland China to Canada, by Period of Arrival, as Reported in 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006b, Public Use Microdata File on Individuals, Persons Born in the People’s Republic of China, 25 Years and Over

Continuing Intergenerational Relations

18The interaction between the Chinese diaspora in Canada and their elderly parents in China can be expected to manifest itself in various ways. First, an increasing number of Chinese residents in Canada will likely be called on to provide support to elderly parents in China. This could include remittances as well as more frequent visits to China than would otherwise be the case. Second, cases of newly arriving immigrants from China sending infant offspring back to China to be taken care of by grandparents, so that both the husband and wife can work towards settling down, can be expected to increase. An increasing number of immigrants will have aging parents who are sufficiently active and healthy to look after the infants, who would more likely than not be their only grandchildren. Third, given that their parents are active and in good health, Chinese in Canada may well be encouraged to bring them to Canada as visitors, as well as under family sponsorship arrangements.

19The extent to which immigrants from China in Canada have ties to China can be gleaned from public use data from the Ethnic Diversity Survey conducted by Statistics Canada, in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage, in 2002. These data reveal that seventy-eight percent of immigrants from China aged twenty-five years and older had relatives in China, and that sixty-four percent had visited China since immigrating to Canada. While the survey uses a broad definition of “family,” it suggests that the majority of immigrants continue to have family ties in China. The existence of family ties in China, and potential intergenerational relationships by extension, also differ by gender and marital status, as the survey data show that more married females and single males than single females and married males had families in China (see Figure 14.3).

20When we examine trips to China for those who had family in China by gender and period of arrival (see Table 14.5), it is clear that women who had family in China were more likely to have visited at least once compared to men, regardless of when they arrived in Canada, and women were far more likely to visit China than males who arrived during the same period. These data suggest that women, particularly married ones, bear the challenges associated with maintaining transnational family relationships, since not only are women more likely to have family in China, but those women with family in China are also more likely to travel there.

Caring for Elderly Parents in China

21Some of the challenges in Chinese immigrant women’s lives are examined in this section, which in part is based on research data from a study on Chinese immigrant women and precarious work conducted in 2004–2005 (Man 2005). The research included two focus groups, one with immigrant women from (mainland) China, and the other with immigrant women from Hong Kong, and individual in-depth interviews were carried out with seven women from China and four from Hong Kong. The women had arrived in Canada between 1998 and 2004. They were all married and had at least one child, either in Canada or in their home country. They were also highly educated. All the women from China had bachelor’s or master’s degrees, and more than half of the women from Hong Kong had university or other post-secondary education. The women from China ranged in age from twenty-five to thirty-six years, and had young children who were pre-schoolers and required child care. The women from Hong Kong were older, ranging from twenty-nine to fifty-three years. While the focus of the analysis is on women from China, the experiences of some of those from Hong Kong are also described for comparative purposes.

Figure 14.3 Chinese in Canada with Family in Mainland China by Gender and Marital Status, 2002

Figure 14.3 Chinese in Canada with Family in Mainland China by Gender and Marital Status, 2002

Source: Statistics Canada, 2003

Table 14.5 Number of Trips to China by Chinese in Canada since Arrival (% of Samples)

Table 14.5 Number of Trips to China by Chinese in Canada since Arrival (% of Samples)

Source: Statistics Canada, 2003

22New immigrants from China have typically immigrated to Canada in nuclear family units. Members of their extended families, such as parents or in-laws who are often elderly, have been either unable or unwilling to emigrate with their adult children and grandchildren (see Da 2003 and Man 2009). Immigration policy makes it difficult for such members of extended families to come, and some elderly parents are reluctant to move to a foreign country where they face social, cultural and linguistic challenges.

23In China, the Confucian belief in filial piety obliges children to care for elderly parents, and in return grandparents, especially grandmothers, often help to care for grandchildren (see Man 1995b, Liu 2008 and Spitzer et al. 2003). While some men do participate in care-giving, in both Western and Asian cultures, the bulk of caring work is still done by women (see Corman and Luxton 2001, Devault 1991, Luxton 1990 and Waring 1999). Despite their household and employment difficulties, cultural ideology also informs immigrants from China to care for their parents or in-laws in China (see Man 1997 and Spitzer et al. 2003).

24Since it is expensive and time-consuming for new immigrants to visit their elderly parents in China, many cannot engage in the day-to-day physical work of caring, but the work of emotional and economic caring continues. The Chinese immigrant women in this study phoned their parents long distance on a regular basis. Other studies have also found that immigrants from Hong Kong used the telephone and internet to communicate with their relatives transnationally (see Kobayashi et al. 2005 and Liu 2008).

25Some immigrants send remittances to their family members in the home country, a practice that is also common among other immigrant groups (see Wong 2003). Periodically, when their budget permits, they pay visits to their elderly parents in China, or send money for their parents to visit them in Canada. The task of caring for family members in the home country always falls on the women. When the elderly parent is ill, the daughter or the daughter-in-law is the one who arranges for their care and calls them long distance from Canada (see Liu 2008 and Man 2008). When the family can afford it, the daughter or daughter-in-law typically travels to China to visit and care for elderly parents or in-laws. Gender ideology and cultural imperative prevail even when a professional Chinese woman in her forties has followed her husband to Toronto and may compromise her own career by travelling back and forth between Canada and China (see Man 2008). Her class status affords her the financial freedom to do so since transcontinental airfares are costly.

26For Chinese immigrants who have aging parents and elderly in-laws residing in different geographical spaces, it is a constant struggle to accomplish the work of caring. As a woman from Hong Kong confided: “[M]y mother-in-law and my father-in-law are very old. We live with them [in Toronto]. We don’t feel comfortable leaving them behind if we go back to Hong Kong.... Well, if I do decide to go back to Hong Kong, it would be because I want to take care of my parents.” Their struggle is not unlike that of those members of the “baby boomer” generation in Canada whose parents do not live in the same city or province as they do, and have to fly back and forth between cities in Canada.

Transnational Care of Grandchildren in China

27In China it is customary for retired grandparents, particularly grandmothers, to take care of their grandchildren, alleviating the child care burden on their adult children, male and female, to enable them to pursue their career aspirations and economic advancement through participation in the labour force. A Chinese woman reflected on the support she was able to procure from her parents, and the ingenuity of extended family members in cooperating in the accomplishment of social reproduction in China: “My daughter lived with her grandma. My husband and I had our own place, but we would go over to my mother’s place for dinner and to see our daughter every evening. After dinner we would go back to our own place.”

28Although the prevalence of grandchildren living with and being cared for by grandparents is not known, the general acceptance of this arrangement provides a space for the development of transnational parenting/grandparenting practice. It reveals the cultural and organizational processes in China that allow for this pragmatic approach.

29Previous studies have asserted the interpenetration of household work and paid work, and women’s primary responsibility for this work (see Armstrong and Armstrong 2002, Man 2002, Luxton 2006, Neysmith and Chen 2002 and Duffy, Mandell and Pupo 1989). For new immigrants in Canada, particularly women, the task of juggling paid work, housework and child care is intensified (see Man 2002, Preston and Man 1999, Salaff and Greve 2006 and Wan 2003). Some Chinese immigrant couples who are unable to obtain subsidized child care, and who have had difficulties juggling child care and paid work, have resolved to send their children back to China to be taken care of by their grandmothers or other family members.

30It has been well-documented that Chinese immigrants encounter difficulties in employment (see Basran and Zong 1998, Li 2000, Wang and Lo 2003, Man 2004, Preston and Man 1999 and Reitz, 2003). Employers’ lack of recognition of the previous experience and credentials of immigrants makes it very difficult for them to find employment commensurate with their qualifications and experience. Immigrants, particularly the Chinese immigrant women who were interviewed, have a propensity to be channelled into menial and precarious positions. Compounded with the lack of affordable child care, this has prompted some women to send their children back to China to be cared for by grandparents so that they can focus on job search and pursue better job opportunities. As this woman explained:

My son was sent back to China already. I feel it’s very stressful doing the job search and taking care of the kid at the same time, both mentally and physically. Sometimes this affected my attitude towards my son, and he would feel confused when I easily lose my patience. After sending my son back to China, I have more time studying and working, so I think it’s a right decision to make.

31For many immigrants from China, the deterioration of their material conditions in the new country necessitated transnational practices to continue their productive and reproductive processes, that is, maintaining employment and the raising of children in separate geographical spaces through transnational familial networks and linkages.

Care and Support between Chinese Immigrants and Their Elderly Parents in Canada

32Many immigrants found it difficult to care for elderly parents in China. While the telephone was used frequently, and was a relatively convenient and inexpensive way to connect with family members, it is inadequate compared to face-to-face interaction. Visits to China prove to be costly, exhausting and time-consuming. Chinese immigrant women therefore expressed their desire for their parents to join them in Canada. A woman from China whose mother was laid off from her job in a factory wanted to apply for her to come to Canada so that she could provide for her. At the same time she also hoped to benefit from her mother’s help with child care: “My mother works in a factory that was not run very well. Many workers were dismissed.... I want my mother to come. She can help me with child care.”

33Chinese immigrants who came to Canada without extended family members lose the household and childcare support they obtained from their parents when they were in China. The absence of this support has led to the transformation of gender relations and household division of labour between spouses in the new country. Another Chinese woman reminisced about the support she was able to procure from her parents when they were in China:

In China I didn’t have to worry about the housework. We went to our parents’ to have dinner every working day, and did some cleaning at our own home during the weekends. My parents helped take care of my children too. Now we have changed a lot. We need to cooperate very well to finish all the housework and take care of our daughter.

34In a study that focuses on immigrants from China coming to Toronto, the majority of female seniors interviewed admitted that they were motivated to come to Canada in order to reunite with family members (see George et al. 2000). The vast majority of the senior participants who made the decision to emigrate had children living in Canada. Some elderly Chinese came to Canada to provide household help and child care for their grandchildren while their adult children went out to work. Chinese immigrant families who are financially qualified to sponsor their elderly parents to come to Canada are able to recreate in Canada the extended family support network they enjoyed in China.

35In another study, a Hong Kong woman whose parents had also immigrated to Canada and lived close by was able to obtain child care assistance from her mother. Her daughter went to the grandparents’ place after school, and stayed there until she and her husband got off work. The whole family then ate dinner at the grandparents’ place every evening, and on the weekends they all went out for dinner. It was in this way that this family was able to replicate the mutual care and support they had provided for each other when they were in their home country (see Man 2009).

36At the same time, some seniors reported experiencing difficulties with the English language and the isolation that ensued (see George et al. 2000). They commented on the ramifications of the lack of interpretation services in hospitals for their health care, since they were unable to describe their health problems fully to doctors, nor could they understand the doctors’ advice (see George et al. 2000). Often, children were unable to accompany elderly parents to their medical examinations because they were engaged in two or more part-time jobs to make ends meet.

37While intergenerational mutual support is common for many seniors and their children, intergenerational conflict within the family also occurs. The stress of unemployment of adult children is often seen as a major cause of a family’s problems. Some elderly parents moved out of their children’s home because of family conflicts and/or financial problems. Elder abuse, although very much underreported due to the shame perceived within the Chinese community, is also a reality for some (see George et al. 2000). The same study found that those elderly Chinese who are able to participate in seniors programmes at community centres found a reduction in their sense of isolation.

Conclusion and Recommendations

38The analysis of data and research presented in this chapter suggests that transnational intergenerational support among the Chinese diaspora in Canada may become considerably more widespread. Given that the proportion of the elderly in the population of China is rapidly increasing, the mechanisms of support between the Chinese diaspora in Canada and their elderly parents in both Canada and China are expected to become more entrenched and prolonged. It is not certain what potential long-term effects the different sectors of the Chinese population (adults, children and the elderly) will encounter as a result of demands for intergenerational support. Given the increasing size of the Chinese population in Canada, it would be prudent for the governments of both Canada and China to take account of the situation by cooperating in a concerted effort to formulate measures to alleviate the hardship of families engaged in transnational intergenerational support.

39In light of the above analysis, a multi-pronged approach is recommended. On the Canadian end, government policies that enable new immigrants to achieve social and economic integration and independence in the new country, while at the same time recognizing and supporting family and extended family commitments both at home and overseas, would be welcome. On the one hand, this would entail introducing measures that would enhance the labour market integration of Chinese immigrants, such as working with employers and regulatory bodies to recognize international credentials and experience, and making profession-specific language courses available to all immigrants. On the other hand, it would also mean providing affordable and culturally sensitive child care programmes to accommodate new immigrant families’ needs, facilitating the sponsorship of extended family members and introducing incentives to employers to allow flexible family leaves, including leaves for caring for family members overseas.

40More specific measures geared toward Chinese seniors in Canada are also warranted. Chinese seniors would benefit directly from initiatives such as facilitating and expediting sponsorship arrangements, providing language courses for seniors visiting family, making health services more culturally sensitive, and regularizing the most frequently used traditional Chinese medicines. Further, in view of the aging population in Canada, there is a need to put more emphasis on health care reform already in process, with a focus on encouraging Chinese immigrants to access health services so as to avoid more serious health problems, disability and the need for long-term care in the future.

41At the same time, the government of China could, on its part, facilitate the emigration of Chinese seniors sponsored by their adult off spring in Canada, and offer support to seniors in China whose adult children have emigrated, particularly if the seniors are caring for their grandchildren. It is recommended that the government recognize grandchildren left in China in the care of seniors as dependents eligible for state benefits. The liberalization and facilitation of pension benefit payments to seniors emigrating to Canada would also greatly benefit those who made contributions during their years of employment in China. Together with the Canadian government, the government of China might be encouraged to negotiate a social security agreement, which would mean that eligible seniors would receive social security benefits from China or Canada. To date, Canada has signed social security agreements with fifty-four countries, including three in East Asia: Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Again, in terms of priorities the government of China should extend support to seniors looking after grandchildren whose parents are abroad and initiate negotiations for a social security agreement with Canada.

42According to Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, one of Canada’s four main policy goals in China is “to work with China to advance shared interests such as health, the environment, and regional peace and security” (see Holden 2008). Given that the Chinese populations in both China and Canada are aging, population aging could be identified as a “shared interest,” and the two governments should jointly tackle issues relating to seniors and transnational intergenerational support. There is a need to promote dialogue and information exchange on aging-related issues between the two countries, as well as collaborative research and exchanges between Canadian and Chinese geriatric specialists, to enable them to obtain firsthand experience of how best to cater to the needs of Chinese seniors.


43This chapter draws in part on data from two research projects: “Transnational Citizenship and Social Cohesion: Recent Immigrants from Hong Kong to Canada,” conducted by Audrey Kobayashi, David Ley, Guida Man, Valerie Preston and Myer Siemiatycki, which was funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (2000–2004); and “Chinese Immigrant Women in Toronto: Precarious Work, Precarious Lives,” conducted by Guida Man, which was funded by a small grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and an Atkinson Minor Research Grant from York University (2004–2005).



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Table des illustrations

Titre Table 14.1 Trends in Age Groups within the Population of Mainland China, 1970–2000, with Projections for 2010–2025
Légende Source: United Nations 2009
Fichier image/jpeg, 151k
Titre Figure 14.1 Parent–Support Ratios in Mainland China, 1970–2000, with Projections for 2010–2050 (%)
Légende Source: United Nations 2009
Fichier image/jpeg, 49k
Titre Figure 14.2 Chinese Immigrants to Canada by Place of Origin, 1980–2006
Légende Source: CIC 2009
Fichier image/jpeg, 70k
Titre Table 14.4 Age at Arrival of Samples of Immigrants from Mainland China to Canada, by Period of Arrival, as Reported in 2006
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2006b, Public Use Microdata File on Individuals, Persons Born in the People’s Republic of China, 25 Years and Over
Fichier image/jpeg, 80k
Titre Figure 14.3 Chinese in Canada with Family in Mainland China by Gender and Marital Status, 2002
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2003
Fichier image/jpeg, 69k
Titre Table 14.5 Number of Trips to China by Chinese in Canada since Arrival (% of Samples)
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2003
Fichier image/jpeg, 87k


Former United Nations Advisor on Population Policies and Development for East and South-East Asia, is an Affiliate of CERIS-The Ontario Metropolis Centre and an Associate of the York Centre for Asian Research. He has focused his research increasingly on population ageing and issues of senior populations. He has published extensively on the subject and his major publications include “Population Ageing in East and South- East Asia: Current Situation and Emerging Challenges” (2006); “The Impact of Social Pensions: Perceptions of Asian Older Persons” (2008) and “Demographic Prognosis for South Asia: a future of rapid ageing” (2009), all published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). His most recent work “The Senior Population in Peel Region: Trends, Characteristics and Issues (1996- 2006)” was published by the Social Planning Council of Peel in March 2010. He is currently working with Professor (Emerita) Kenise Murphy Kilbride on a project “Immigrant Senior Men in Ontario: Understanding and Meeting Their Needs and Challenges” based in Ryerson University, Toronto

Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at York University, an Affiliate of CERIS-The Ontario Metropolis Centre and a Faculty Associate of the York Centre for Asian Research. Her research is largely motivated by questions related to the immigrant and ethnic integration process and the factors that contribute to differing paths of integration. She has published on ethnicity and residential patterns in Canada and the United States (a 2009 book with LFB Publishing and articles in the American Journal of Sociology, Canadian Studies in Population and Sociological Methods and Research), immigrant generations and homeownership (Canadian Journal of Urban Research), and international migration flows (Canadian Studies in Population). More recently, she has developed an expanding program of research on the Korean diaspora in Canada which encompasses ethnic entrepreneurship, immigrant seniors, new destinations, and transnational families, and currently, she is working on two major projects, one on Korean transnational families and another on the gendered and racialized patterns of economic security in later life

Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University, teaching in the Departments of Sociology, Equity Studies, and Women Studies. She is a Faculty Associate of the Centre for Feminist Research and the York Centre for Asian Research, and an Affiliate of CERIS-The Ontario Metropolis Centre. Her research interest encompasses the interactions of globalization, transnational migration, gender, work, and social inequality, as they are articulated to gender, race and class relations. She has conducted a number of research studies concerning Chinese immigrants in Canada, addressing such issues as transnationalism, families, gender relations, employment, and integration. Currently, she is the Principal Investigator of a research entitled “Transnational Migration Trajectories of Immigrant Women Professionals in Canada: Strategies of Work and Family” funded by SSHRC Standard Research Grant (2009-11), and another research on transnational linkages of Chinese immigrant women in Toronto funded by a York University research grant (2009-10). She has published extensively in her area of specialization, and is presently involved in a co-edited book project entitled Transnational Voices: Global Migration and the Experiences of Women, Youth and Children

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