Financial freedom, final fantasy, ‘formative ageing’: A study of ageing single women and retirement in contemporary China

Yiu Fai Chow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article aims to continue a conversation sustained in this journal during the last three decades; a conversation that seeks to promote critical thinking on age and ageing through the lens of gender and sexuality. I do so by considering a specific group of Chinese women: single women living in Beijing or Shanghai. I invited 24 of them, born between 1962 and 1990, to share their imaginations about retirement, in the Chinese context, where the mandatory retirement age for women is 55 or 50 (60 for men). My aims are three-fold: to insert this group of single women into retirement and ageing studies; to recuperate and document their retirement imaginations; and ultimately, to draw insights from their subjective accounts, to revisit dominant paradigms of ageing, notably so-called successful ageing. Empirical data show how these single women treasure financial freedom, but usually without taking concrete steps towards its accomplishment. They also embrace a diversity of imaginations about where and with whom they want to spend their retirement life, and what they want to do – both long-held dreams and new careers. Inspired by yanglao, a term they use instead of retirement, I argue the term ‘formative ageing’ is a more inclusive and less normative way of looking at ageing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101096
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Early online date28 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Formative ageing
  • Retirement
  • Single womanhood
  • Successful ageing


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