University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Global and Regional Studies Program


Jeanne Shea, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Faculty Research 2012


Jeanne Shea conducting interviews of China's elderly

Associate Professor of Anthropology Jeanne Shea won a highly prestigious Fulbright fellowship in 2012, which allowed her to spend eight months in China pursuing her research on the complex social dynamics of spousal eldercare in contemporary Chinese society.  Professor Shea conducted a series of household interviews and observations with more than twenty female and male spousal caregivers between the ages of sixty and ninety years old, most from middle income households in several Shanghai communities with spouses who required a moderate level of assistance with activities of daily living due to either some form of dementia or another chronic disease.  This research comes at a critical juncture in China’s history during which its proportion of elderly people requiring extended periods of intensive caregiving hasElder care in China risen to a unprecedented level for the nation, precisely at a time when young people find themselves less and less willing and able to provide direct care to their aging parents.  Entering the homes and lives of elderly caregivers provides a fascinating standpoint from which to understand how the myriad social, economic, and cultural changes sweeping through China today are being met by families in community context.  Given that Shanghai is at the vanguard of the graying of China’s population with the highest proportion of elderly population in the nation, many of the new eldercare solutions we see arising in Shanghai today may be harbingers of things to come in other parts of China in the future.

Elderly in China








To hear Professor Shea speak about her research activity, follow this link to her recent interview on WCAX TV 3.

Last modified February 26 2013 03:47 PM