Lan, Pei-Chia. “Subcontracting filial piety: Elder care in dual-earner Chinese immigrant households in the Bay Area”. Berkeley Center for Working Families Working Paper, No. 21, 2001.
The cultural norm of filial piety has traditionally governed intergenerational relationships in ethnic-Chinese families. Based on in-depth interviews with middle-class dual-earner Taiwanese and Hong Kong immigrant families in the Bay Area, I examine the modification of the cultural meanings and social practices of elder care in the contexts of resettlement in the United States. I use the term "subcontracting filial piety" to describe that adult children employ non-family care workers to be filial agents paid by private or public funds. I analyze the commodification of elder care from three dimensions -- where care takes places, who gives care, and who pays for care –and examine the impacts on the meanings and boundaries of Chinese families. Although three-generational cohabitation may have declined on foreign soil, the family remains the nexus of care networks and economic ties among Chinese immigrants. Through recruiting home care workers as fictive kin, immigrant adult children are able to maintain the cultural ideal of filial care. The receipt of public care among immigrant elders does not necessarily indicate the diminishment of family bonds, but reinforces kin connections as channels for circulating economic resources.