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Grant to Yield More Study on Elderly
Social work and gerontology experts receive support from the USC U.S.-China Institute for further research on China’s aging population.
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By Maya Meinert
This article was originally published by USC News on April 11, 2007.
Iris Chi, holder of the Chinese-American Golden Age Association/Frances Wu Chair for the Chinese Elderly at the USC School of Social Work, is part of an inter-school collaboration that has been awarded $15,000 for research on the aging population in China from the USC U.S.-China Institute.
The grant will be used to expand existing research on the needs of the elderly population in China and to explore their impact on Chinese society as a whole.
The project, “Population Aging in China: Social, Health and Policy Implications” is a team effort between the USC School of Social Work and the USC Davis School of Gerontology, where Chi holds a joint appointment, and will be investigated with Merril Silverstein, a USC Davis School professor of gerontology and sociology.
“China’s elderly population is growing three times the rate of most Western countries, so the country is in a race with itself,” Chi said.
The United Nations reports that China will have one of the world’s oldest populations by mid-century, with more than one in five citizens older than age 65 and more than one in three older than age 60. She and Silverstein question whether China can achieve its desired level of economic development before a growing older population and a shrinking workforce slow down its economy.
“As China continues to become a global force, the scope of this project will be important not only to China but to the world," she said.
The grant will help the researchers expand collaborative efforts with other USC schools and colleagues in China. Chi and Silverstein will attend the Asia/Oceania Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics summit in Beijing in October to present research papers and network with other scholars in the area of aging, especially those at the Peking and Renmin universities in China. With the participation of U.S. and Chinese scholars, they also plan to host a two-day symposium at USC next April on family and formal care of the elderly in China.
In addition to her work at the USC School of Social Work, Chi is the director of the Sau Po Centre on Aging at the University of Hong Kong, where she taught for 17 years. She is currently collaborating on a national longitudinal study of Chinese elders to document the needs and conditions of 20,255 community-dwelling older adults in urban and rural China.
Silverstein serves as principal investigator of a longitudinal study of older people – which is partially funded by the USC School of Social Work – in the Anhui Province. The study is examining the impact of migration on the physical and psychological well-being of the elderly left behind in rural villages by their adult children.
Another aim of this project is to enhance research training and professional socialization for USC graduate students studying aging and intergenerational relationships in China.
Doctoral students Zhen Cong from the USC Davis School of Gerontology and May Guo, Yawen Li and Lu Zhou from the USC School of Social Work are using data from Chi’s and Silverstein’s work for their dissertations and will contribute to all scholarly activities related to the USC U.S.-China Institute project.
The USC U.S.-China Institute was established in 2006 as an interdisciplinary research institute to produce policy-relevant social science research, innovative graduate and undergraduate training, extensive and influential public events, and professional development efforts all focused on the U.S.-China relationship.
As China Ages: Elderly Health Outcomes and Socioeconomic Status | Social support, social change, and psychological well-being of the elderly in China: Does the type and source of support matter? | An elderly perspective: A case study of elderly residents' preferences and opinions on housing in various communities in Beijing | The Health and Well-Being of the Elderly in China: Evidence from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) | China Trip Offers Wisdom on Aging | Intergenerational social support and the psychological well-being of older parents in China | Delegates Discuss Aging in China | Grant to Yield More Study on Elderly | A Profile of the Chinese Aged Population: Results from 2000 and 2006 National Surveys | Aging in China Covered During USC Visit