Fox Leadership International’s Research and Service Project on Eldercare in China

July 15, 2016

Fox Leadership International (FLI) has launched a five-year research and service project on eldercare in China. With an elderly population that will be about as large as the entire U.S. population by mid-century, and with growing respiratory and other acute geriatric health problems among its booming cohort of senior citizens, China—a nation with deep traditions of filial piety and respect for the elderly—faces an eldercare crisis of epic proportions. The "4-2-1" family structure (four grandparents, two parents, one child) and inverted age pyramid wrought by the now-defunct one-child policy is but one part of a story that includes an acute shortage of nurses and other medical personnel, scores of millions of elderly without adequate health insurance, and few residential or non-residential institutional eldercare options between the traditional family home and the nursing home.

FLI’s first Tsinghua University Graduate Exchange PEACE Fellow Xinglin Pan provides translation for the delegation of Chinese leaders visiting the LIFE center in Philadelphia.

In May, FLI, in partnership with Penn School of Nursing Science faculty Christine Bradway, associate professor of gerontological nursing; Jianghong Liu, associate professor of nursing; and Pam Cacchione, Ralston House Endowed Term Chair in Gerontological Nursing and associate professor of geropsychiatric nursing; hosted a delegation of Chinese leaders who are working on various aspects of the eldercare crisis. Among other activities, the group visited the School of Nursing-supported Living Independently for Elders (LIFE) center in West Philadelphia.

Fox Leadership International Faculty Director John DiIulio at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Pukou community elderly health management center in Nanjing.

In June, FLI faculty and students, joined by Chinese medical leaders, government officials, and healthcare experts, cut the ribbon on a new eldercare facility in Nanjing, China.

FLI Fellows (left to right): Daniel DiIulio, C’15; Richard Levy, C’17; Wenjia Zhu, Nu’19; Connie Chen, Nu’17; Sophia Busacca, Nu’18; FLI Graduate Exchange PEACE Fellow Xinglin Pan; Prof. Zhang of Shanghai Shuguang Hospital; James Wallace, LPS’17; Weilong Li, SPP’16; and FLI Deputy Executive Director Chih-jen Lee.

In May and June, eight FLI undergraduate and alumni fellows, including several who had taken an FLI-sponsored spring political science seminar focused on eldercare in China, spent six weeks in Suzhou, China. Hosted by the University of Dayton China Institute's (UDCI) Associate Provost and Dean Professor Weiping Wang, they studied the topic with diverse academic, business, and government experts and visited facilities in several cities, including Nanjing and Shanghai. The FLI fellows studied eldercare under the direction of FLI Faculty Director and Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society John DiIulio, and took a UDCI course on modern East Asia, while also engaging in many different educational and cultural exchange activities. The fellows were accompanied by FLI's first Tsinghua University Graduate Exchange PEACE Fellow, Xinglin "Richard" Pan (Tsinghua University MPA'17), and supervised by FLI Deputy Executive Director Chih-jen "Melvin" Lee.

CUP-SASS executive co-leaders Helen Guan WG’16, and Michael Chen WG’16, present their research at the FLI student forum.

In April, FLI's 30-member China-U.S. Partnerships for Educational Advancement and Cultural Exchange (PEACE) Student and Alumni Steering Society, known as CUP-SASS, sponsored a half-day forum on eldercare in China that was framed by discussions among Penn's 2,100 presently enrolled Chinese national students. The forum also featured the committee's executive co-leaders, Wharton MBA students Michael Chen, WG'16, and Helen Guan, WG'16, along with Professor Chao Guo of the School of Social Policy and Practice.

In September, DiIulio, a member of the Tsinghua University China Public Leadership Center's advisory board, will be among the keynote speakers at a conference on China's eldercare crisis at the Penn Wharton China Center in Beijing.