Global Differences in Lifespan Development

Normative perceptions concerning the element of age in society are majorly observed through meta-perceptions. Such perceptions depict beliefs on how society perceives the seniors (Vauclair et al., 2016). Globally, the elderly receive different treatment that varies from one nation or culture to the other. By 2030, all Baby Boomers will be over 65 years. After the “one child per family” policy in China, there are a couple of challenges that the county faces in this 21st century. The aging population is increasing at an alarming rate that affects the traditional way of caring for the old in the country(Zhang & Goza, 2016). In China, 636 million people will be over 50 by 2050 (Zou & Say, 2014). In this case, society will have a high number of older people that expose them to ageism. Ageism is a concept that is gaining popularity in populations such as Asia, Europe, and the United States. The idea touches on three main components that include behavior, stereotypes, and prejudice. With an increased aging population in various countries, the likelihood of ageism is on a high alert. According to the study by Vauclair et al. (2016), ageism refers to stereotyping against older people based on their age. Such stereotyping many be positive or even negative. The seniors in the East, particularly China, tend to receive a better treatment compared to the way they are treated in the West (United States).

Firstly, the perception of the seniors in the two countries differs significantly. In China, for instance, the old are held in high regard. On the contrary, the old face much prejudice and stereotype in the United States, as Vauclair et al. (2016) argue. According to the study that Zou& Say (2014) conducted, respecting the elderly in China is a part of the country’s law. In this case, seniors can even sue their children if they don’t support them either emotionally or even financially. The companies, among other employers, on the other hand, are required to give their employees leave so that they can go and see their parents. Given the high population experienced in China, taking care of the elderly is imperative not to expose the economy in jeopardy. In 1979, the country established the one-child policy that is currently exhibiting profound economic and social difficulties that require an establishment of suitable policies (Zhang & Goza, 2016). On the other hand, the US has been in the past, neglected the plight of the seniors. However, they have, in the recent past, established various initiatives that seem to appreciate the seniors. 

China’s beliefs, norms, and values also differ from the US. One of the prevalent assumptions that psychologists hold is that ageism is less in the Eastern countries compared to the other continents. Such beliefs result from their norms and values that highly honor and respect the elderly. According to the study by Vauclair et al. (2016), Eastern cultures are fewer ageists compared to Western societies since the older people in Asia are held in high esteem. In most Asian countries, the elderly are treated in high regard, as mentioned earlier. On the other hand, the young ones are cherished and nurtured. Such happens as a result of the difference in China and the United States’ family goals. While China teaches the family to stick together, the United States family’s goal is to encourage independence. In such a case, seniors tend to live seldom. In cases where the seniors cannot afford their basics, they are taken to the home of the elderly.

Treating the old between China and the US is different as a result of the values that the two countries hold. In China, the society is influenced by Confucius values. Such values include filial piety, among many others. According to the study that Vauclair et al. (2016) conducted, these values significantly promote positive views of aging. The adults teach the younger ones the importance of respect, obeying, and caring for the elderly. In the West, on the other hand, society is young-oriented, and in most cases, people hold negative views about the elderly (Vauclair et al., 2016).In the US, seniors are associated with the feeling of pity. Additionally, they are stereotyped as a result of their patronizing behaviors, also known as active facilitation. 

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Consistent with the culture hypothesis illustrated above, China people tend to be interdependent and collectivistic in nature. According to the study that Vauclair et al. (2016) conducted, most of the young people in the country seek assistance from older people. The study points out that society places greater respect to the relational harmony (Vauclair et al., 2016). In China, ensuring that older people are fed and taken care of seems like a duty, as the work by Zhou and Walker (2016) indicates. In the US, the value of independence is of a higher significance. In this case, personal control, as well as innovations that may not necessarily be compatible with older people, is given a priority. From the above explanation, it is evident that the normative climates in the two countries dictate how the elderly in society are treated. The analysis has also shown that such an environment substantially differs between the two cultures. 

Apart from the many differences, the United States is encouraging the society to take care of its seniors. American seniors are currently one of the happier and healthier populations compared to the past. In a work that Bell et al. (2016) conducted, the United States has started to honor seniors and care for them as the baby boomers continue to reach the senior status in a more considerable number. In the recent past, various US religions have started honoring and providing seniors. In many of the seniors’ centers, people are volunteering. Bell et al. (2016) add that society has taken various measures to ensure that seniors are remembered and acknowledged through various gestures. Examples of such gestures include the introduction of the Seniors Citizens Day and Older Americans Month

In summary, the two countries have many differences in how they treat their elderly. In the East (China), the elderly are held in high regard since they are perceived to contribute to the society significantly. The younger generation seeks wisdom from them since they believe they have gained much from their life histories. Apart from ageism being prevalent in the US in the past, the country has improved. As indicated earlier, the seniors in the country are happier compared to many countries. The strategies to recognize the elderly are also underway where Older Americans Month and the Senior Citizens Day were introduced. Additionally, the State-of-the-art senior living communities are involving by the day in support of the need to care for the rapidly growing population. Despite many differences, the two countries are working against ageism.


Bell, S., Patel, N., Patel, N., Sonani, R., Badheka, A., & Forman, D. (2016). Care for the Older Adults. J Geriatr Cardiol, 13(1), 1-7. Doi:10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2016.01.019

Vauclair, C., Hanke, K., Huang, L., & Abrams, D. (2016). Are Asian cultures really less ageist than Western ones? It depends on the questions asked. International Journal of Psychology, 52(2), 136-144. Doi: 10.1002/ijop.12292

Zhang, Y & Goza, F. (2016). Who Will Care for the Elderly in China? A Review of the Problems Caused by China’s One-Child Policy and their Potential Solutions. Journal of Aging Studies, 20(2), 151-164. Doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2005.07.002

Zhou, J., & Walker, A. (2015). The need for community care among older people in China. Ageing and Society, 36(06), 1312-1332. Doi: 10.1017/s0144686x15000343

Zou, X & Say, D. (2014). China’s ageing Population: Challenges and Implications. Journal of Aging Studies, 3(5), 310-318. Doi: 10.13140/2.1.4436.5609