Hong Kong Chinese daughters' intergenerational caregiving obligations: A cultural model approach

Eleanor Holroyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


This paper, based on a study carried out in Hong Kong, outlines the caregiving obligations of Hong Kong Chinese daughters towards their frail elderly parents. A cultural model approach drawn from cognitive anthropology is taken to focus on how Chinese caregiving daughters develop a sense of what is right and emotionally fulfilling and acquire the motivation to care for their parents. An ethnographic approach was used in the study and techniques included guided and open-ended interviews and non-participatory observations. A total of 20 co-residential caregiving daughters were interviewed in their homes on average twice over the course of one year. All interviews were conducted in Cantonese. Although the sample was small, daughters' accounts are structured by reference to cultural models and this structure provides the common basis for generalisability of results. Concepts of Confucian antecedents, reciprocity and personhood and other modern ideas of filial duty are explored. Conclusions are drawn about the shifting rights and obligations of Chinese caregiving daughters within the contemporary urban realities of Hong Kong. The findings of this study have relevance for the development of welfare policy for older Chinese persons and the chronically ill, and to all services involving women. The findings will also serve to inform family caregiver education programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1134
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Caregiving
  • Cultural models
  • Daughters
  • Filial obligation
  • Hong Kong Chinese


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