Social Innovation and Service Delivery for the Elderly: “Partnership” Between Government and NGOs
My research focus for this collaborative project is government policy and NGOs as a way of managing aging in China and caring for the elderly. Traditionally, elder care has been the responsibility of the elders’ grown children. However, with the strict birth control policy nearing its fortieth anniversary, the number of adults available to care for their parents (and grandparents) has been considerably reduced. With the 4 – 2 – 1 problem becoming increasingly common (that is, one adult to care for two parents and four grandparents), the Chinese government is encouraging new approaches from the society, including non-profit NGOs, to pilot innovative ways to meet the increasing needs of an aging population. In China, due to the history of one-party rule and the strong state control, the NGO sector is still new, and for some areas of social concerns, partnering with the government is not only common but also often important for NGOs to effectively play their advocacy role.
I plan to examine the emerging role of NGOs in the eldercare area through interviewing NGO representatives and community leaders. Since NGOs in the eldercare field are still new and often work closely with the local community leaders, interviewing the NGO leaders in this field should allow me to gain insight on what services the NGOs provide, how they collaborate with local community leaders or other grassroots groups in advocating for the rights of the elderly, and what challenges the NGOs see regarding their work for the elderly in the future. I also intend to interview elderly people in the communities where NGOs have played an active role to find out how elderly individuals view these changes, particularly the advantages and disadvantages of relying on one’s government or other social service delivery over one’s children.