Do the Wife and the Husband Behave As a Unit or As Separate Individuals in Caregiving to Their Older Parents in East Asia?

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Reiko YAMATO, Faculty of Sociology, Kansai University, Japan
[Background] This study focuses on the wife and the husband as smaller units in the family. East Asian societies such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China have a tradition of the extended family which emphasizes the relationship between different generations. Influenced by this tradition, previous studies in East Asia have analyzed the wife and husband as a couple and as one unified unit in intergenerational relationships . Recently, however, because the individualization of the wife and the husband is proceeding, it is possible to hypothesize that the wife and the husband behave not as a unit but as separate individuals and that the wife’s intergenerational relationships differ from those for the husband. [Question and hypotheses] Do the wife and the husband behave as a unit or as separate individuals in caregiving to their parents? The first hypothesis is a “patrilineal couple” hypothesis which argues that the wife and husband behave as one unit and, under the patrilineal tradition, provide more care to the husband’s parents than to the wife’s parents. The second hypothesis is the “individualization of the wife and the husband” which argues that the wife gives more care to her own parents while the husband give more care to his own parents. [Data and results] Data obtained from the East Asian Social Survey 2006 are analyzed. The analyses reveals that for Japan, the “individualization of the wife and the husband” hypothesis is empirically supported. This result suggests that in contemporary Japan, care-giving is not a couple’s but an individualized task and that men are also expected to provide physical care to their own parents. Analyses for other East Asian societies will be presented. On the basis of those results, differences between the societies, reasons of those differences and policy implications will be discussed.