Gender, Migration, & The Work of Care

Research Findings

China is now partly relying on religious groups’ philanthropy to respond to its acute elder care crisis

Quick Facts

3.6 million

Estimated workers needed to fill the current care gap in China.


Increase in care facilities in China between 2006 and 2009.


Chinese population over 65 that are excluded from state-supported long-term care services.


Full-time care workers in China for every 100 people aged 65 plus.

That’s after years of repressing religions during the Cultural Revolution. At the same time, China is experiencing a rise in religious sentiment.

Dr. André Laliberté wants to know if, and how, these two social changes relate.

His research team, in the “Gender, Migration and the Work of Care” sub-project “Culture in the Framing of Care in Chinese Societies” is exploring how Chinese societies draw on the resources of their religious traditions when they build care policies. They’ll examine the People’s Republic, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Caregiving is poorly paid, and taking up caregiving work may be seen as “losing face” in secular Chinese societies.

The role of religious actors is complex: while their values may legitimate exploitative working conditions, they can also inspire solidarity with care-givers experiencing difficulties.

Some temples are also offering philanthropy and charitable volunteering through foundations and even at the ground level of housing elders.

China’s ageing crisis has been shaped by a 1950s to 1970s baby-boom, followed by the one-child policy, and rapid demographic changes related to industrialization and globalization.

Laliberté teaches students at the University of Ottawa about caregiving in his Chinese and Asian politics classes.

Some sessions have sparked passionate dialogues when students speak from their personal and family perspectives.

“I have been witness to life-changing epiphanies for all involved, more than a more formal approach to politics would have achieved,” says the teacher and professor.