Friday, June 8, 2018
Duke University Law graduate and 2018-19 Bristow Fellow H. Hunter Bruton uses filial support laws in China and contrasting government policies in Japan to explore public policy choices affecting the relative responsibilities of family and government to provide care for aging adults. The author's 2018 article for the University of Minnesota Law Review begins:
This Essay aims to fill that gap by formulating policy recommendations from the lessons of China and Japan--two countries that have taken divergent approaches to facilitating familial and communal eldercare. Conventional wisdom paints cultural portraits with a broad brush: inescapable forces fight against familial and communal eldercare in the West, while Eastern cultures revere the elderly. But cultural ideals and characterizations do not always accord with reality. Similar to the United States, cultural and societal trends in both China and Japan have resisted government efforts to place the eldercare burden on families and communities. This Essay explores how each government’s response has altered eldercare practices and elucidates general principles applicable to the American-eldercare context.
Part I begins by defining eldercare and explaining the benefits of familial and communal eldercare. It concludes with a brief survey and analysis of familial and communal eldercare’s past, present, and future in America. With the goal of increasing familial and communal eldercare in mind, this Essay turns towards two differing international examples. Part II scrutinizes China’s solution--mandating familial and communal eldercare to alleviate government costs. Part III analyzes Japan’s approach--institutionalizing encouragement of familial and communal eldercare. Each Part also evaluates American analogs, and possible reform opportunities in the United States. An all-inclusive assessment and comparison would require empirical studies and elaboration beyond this Essay’s scope. Instead of purporting to meet these demands, this Essay intends to chronicle the successes and shortcomings of China and Japan and give American policymakers a better understanding of pertinent considerations in formulating eldercare policy.