“4-2-1″ is the term for a particular new development. Four grandparents, two parents, and then only one dependent child. This problem, of special importance in China given the one-child policy, is one of the most difficult issues faced by the developed world. The phenomenon will however hit Chinese society particularly hard in the near future.
The problem exists however even today. A young chinese person becomes responsible for six elder family members.¬†
Chinese culture teaches that you raise children so that they in turn may look after you in your old age, not only financially but also emotionally. The older generation is used to living frugally, and so fear of loneliness is a real issue. They have contributed to society, and work in a commune comprised an essential part of their lives. As they begin retirement this central aspect of life disappears at once. They seek to remain an integral part of family life, ensuring themselves a strong sense of security and self-awareness.
Because so many chinese parents have generously invested time and effort in supporting their child as best they can, the sense of compulsion upon young people is particularly strong. China’s government has long recognised the problem of an ageing population, and it has also been a recurrent theme in the chinese media. Statistics are often published and calculations made in order to solve the problem. Families become numbers. Numbers replace people.
“4-2-1″ hopes to give back a human face to those reduced to mere numbers, and to encourage others to think about the issues involved.