Generational Differences In Worldwide Cultures
As with all areas of our society, the way that the UK treats, respects and provides for its older generations is not the same as the rest of the world does it. For better or worse, generational differences and attitude towards them are one of the defining features of other countries, including our own. Here we’ll look at some of the similarities, differences, things the UK does well and things the UK can learn from.
Being respectful of your elders is not only a custom in China but is actually the law! Eastern Asia in general is known for the stock it puts into things like wisdom, generational learning and passing down customs but the major Asian superpower has put it into law. In two examples, parents and grandparents are entitled to sue those lower on the family tree for emotional or financial neglect. In addition, businesses are required by law to give their employees time off from work to spend time with parents and grandparents. Respect, honour and kindness to seniors is part of the ingrained culture of China but with 49% of the population expected to be aged 50+ by 2050, it’s a necessity too.
Mediterranean & Latin Countries
It’s all one big happy family in these parts of the world, theoretically anyway. Even today it’s fairly common place for multiple generations to all live under one roof, even from both sides of a marriage. Everyone chips in with raising children, maintaining the home and supporting the family in whatever way necessary. Not only does this show a great deal of respect for and commitment to older generations but some studies have also shown that some major age-related diseases and deteriations are far lessened in these cultures as a result. It’s not hard to see why as this huge family network gives older people a place, a purpose and a pride in being a part of it.
The UK and the US
Age old traditions in government and society take centre stage here. You may be forgiven for thinking that the English-speaking western world doesn’t place as much value in its older population as much of the world and the potential reasons for this can be found buried in the annals of history. Coming from a protestant working ethic where a citizen’s value is often attributed to their ability to work which naturally falls off as someone ages. If we’re looking for deep philanthropic conclusions to this, it does contribute somewhat to the gender hierarchy so often associated with the west as well. Just something to think about…
From modern day USA to one often overlooked. Much of the respect and dignity given to older people in many Native American cultures comes from one simple fact; everybody ages. So much of these cultures were deeply in tune with nature that the idea of passing on was simply a fact and the offshoots of this were that elders, who had had the longest and most complex life experiences of a tribe, where revered. You can even go so far as to say that the older someone becomes and the closer to being back to nature they grow, gave these societies and outlook of near serenity with older people. Getting older was at the core of many of the principles of their entire way of life. In some places, it still is today.
There’s no one culture or society or country that seems to have absolutely got it right when it comes to respect and treatment of its older population, then again who’s to say what right is?! Still, it is interesting to know how attitudes and perceptions of elder people around the world vary and differ from continent to continent. With help, the UK can claim some of the best bits as its population ages.