Shanghai law uses credit scores to enforce filial piety

Multiple generations of one-child policies have left China with a calamitous demographic crunch: a system that formerly relied upon large cohorts of descendants to care for their elders is now finding itself top-heavy with ever-longer-lived pensioners relying on dwindling cohorts of working-age descendants who have all but abandoned the Confucionist virtue of filial piety.

The country can't afford a robust state pension service for these elders, and their kids are refusing to support them. What is to be done?

In Shanghai, the local government has announced that it will add black marks to the credit records of working age people who do not visit or send greetings to their elderly relatives often enough, starting May 1.

Beijing has brought in a similar law in 2013, though it is viewed as unenforceable. The Shanghainese version, which spells out the specific punishment of downgrading credit scores, aims to fix the enforceability problems with the Beijing statute.

A court in the southern city of Guangzhou heard four cases involving parents who took their children to court for a lack of emotional support in the 18 months after the law went into effect, the Guangzhou Daily reported. The judge in each case said the court could only facilitate conversations between sides and could not force children to visit home.

Luo said linking credit scores to filial responsibilities will ensure the law can be enforced.

Shanghai had 4.36 million people over the age of 60 at the end of last year, a figure equal to 30 percent of the city's population, official data show. The number is expected to surpass 5 million by 2018.

Shanghai Says People Who Fail to Visit Parents Will Have Credit Scores Lowered
[Luo Ruiyao/Caixin]