Elderly people as "apocalyptic demography"? A study of the life stories of older people in Hong Kong born in the 1930s

Jackie Yan Chi Kwok, Hok Bun Ku

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In Hong Kong, the general view still follows the biomedical discourse to define aging. The government and leading gerontologists follow the prevailing representation of elderly and describe growing old as a process of becoming "frail, infirm, and vulnerable" (Fealy et al., 2012: 91). Discussions of demographic trends often focus on the drastic effects of an aging society on economic development. Our research indicates that Hong Kong's construction of aging is a product of its market-driven economy. Drawing from the life stories of eight participants born in the 1930s, we examine the meaning of aging and the formation of character in a specific historical context, adopting the life-course perspective. We wish to understand how larger movements in the social and political world shaped the experiences of the participants and the strategies they developed to maintain agency and control in life. The participants in our study struggled for survival through unprecedented political disasters and social turmoil in their youth. When they reached maturity in the 1960s and 1970s, they devoted themselves to bettering their lives and contributed to the economic boom of the city. We maintain that the biomedical model offers a reductive and unjust means of viewing the people in this cohort, who are often seen as a problem and a burden. Challenging the prevailing ageist attitude, we set the life stories of the participants against the dominant biomedical model of aging. Our work aims to establish a just description of the life experiences of Hong Kong people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Aging
  • Biomedical model
  • Hong Kong history
  • Hong Kong society
  • Life stories
  • Life-course approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy


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