Shanghai law uses credit scores to enforce filial piety

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The Granny State.


Ooh, I saw this the other day. Dysfunctional families having their spats go through totalitarian arbitration. This is gonna be fun to watch. :two_hearts:


Be right back, I have to call my grandma.


I really wonder what kind of piety do the elders expect to receive from economically blackmailed offspring, apart from a firm pillow press to the face…

On the other hand, being old and lonely sucks and every society has to evolve some mechanism to push the ungrateful, myopic brats into paying some attention to those who brought them up. We also use quasi-Confucian social shame to this end, to some degree.



But now when you visit granny she can say, “you’re only visiting to get your credit score up.” How the hell do you enforce a law like this? It seems as vague as the various Bathroom Bills going around.


In unrelated news, the murder rate amongst retired people continues to rise…

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A bit of state intervention can be quite salubrious when the issue at hand is “things that would be all kinds of criminal if they happened between strangers; and only the most unpleasantly retro among us still pretend are ‘merely domestic matters’”; since when a justice system is having a good day it knows something about dealing with assault, murder, child neglect, rape, or the high probability of these things; but anyone going to court to make someone have a better relationship with them is walking straight into a category error.

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Unless the impecunious old people were paying their medical bills first; and scrimping everywhere else; or China has found a way of producing Suk doctors; I suspect that ‘deaths from nonspecific natural causes’ are what Grandma and Grandpa should worry about.


This might just be a translation issue(I’m arguably dangerously under-qualified for EN-US armchair lawyering; much less commenting on municipal laws in a language I can’t read and a legal system non-trivially different from jurisdictions I have any familiarity with); but the one thing that strikes me as somewhat interesting from a ‘compare the objectives of the law and how the right/duty/property is conceptualized’ standpoint is that the law demands both emotional attention/visits/interaction and appears to have at least some vague expectation of financial support.

From an American context; it isn’t alien that old people would want those things; but even if we were going to make supporting the aged the explicit duty of their offspring in particular(rather than Social Security/medicare/medicaid/etc. being a mechanism for old people in general to be supported by working age people in general; but without any ‘your kid pays for you, my kid pays for me’); I’d be amazed if it would take the form of anything other than a framework much closer to the one used for child support; it is really striking that a legal obligation to visits/greetings/other nice-but-not-financial interactions would be created, rather than either a straightforward “if you can afford it and you aren’t providing a wealth transfer of roughly desired-pension-size; you are in contravention” or a trickier but more nuanced “if you are allowing your parents’ needs to go unmet for want of money, you are in contravention” standard.

It’s the same sensation I get when reading about French copyright plans(or the EU-wide plans pushed by French agents). Nobody ever accused the Americans of lacking vicious copyright maximalists and some genuinely terrible plans RE: copyright; but for the most part when the Americans do it or lobby for it it’s all about the money. Seeing people who consider “droit moral” when conceptualizing copyrights, rather than “Intellectual property” is always just a bit of a culture shock.

The fine tale of Judge Lisa Gorcyca seems approprate in this situation.

Send kids to juvie for refusing to have a friendly lunch with dear old dad? Seems legit…


Well, the story I read had quotes much more like, “Why would I want to visit my father? He was a bastard and verbally abusive while I was growing up.”

Apparently, China has just begun to reap the “rewards” from its one-child policy. No one wants to take care of old, angry retirees.

eta: I finally found the story I read earlier: Credit blacklist for Shanghai’s disloyal children from the BBC.


Western culture did have a more or less codified obligation of filial respect and, essentially resultant, care for one’s parents - it’s right there in the Decalogue, under nominal penalty of death.

Granted, this was hardly enforced to its strictest degree by the time the first millennium of the common era rolled around, but at least until the upheaval of the French revolution, some sort of a legal power of the pater familias over subordinate family members (i.e. all women and younger men) was commonplace.

I think it’s only been about four or five generations since this principle was entirely abandoned as an enforceable claim and it still vestigially survives in various estate statutes as an option to disinherit otherwise mandatory claimants on the basis of insufficient interest in the testator.


The shadow of the paterfamilias and various variants on ‘coverture’ died unfortunately hard and late; but even those were only moderately binding as a substitute for a pension once daddy had become decrepit enough that his sons were paterfamilias material over households of their own; and his daughters had moved from being his chattels to somebody elses’. Direct filial piety orders (while still considered plausible enough to make moral appeals to) have died at least as hard as the theory that usury is bad, rather than a central component of any economy not based on banging rocks together.

I don’t, and don’t want to seem like I am, arguing with you on the ‘yes, the Chinese were hardly the only culture to come up with somewhat similar old-people-handling theories’ point; just that the idea that we’d use ours as legally binding even in comparatively routine cases seems dead enough that it’s a bit hard to imagine a domestic equivalent to this sort of proposal. Bits of it will probably linger forever within the crannies of estate law; but “Call Grandma or Experian and Transunion will trash your credit.” would cause some head explosions if proposed in seriousness(in thinking about it, also because of the implication that the ‘credit rating’ is a totally legitimate thing for the state to modify in order to turn the screws on someone; rather than a nominally-private financial industry risk management tool that the state makes only the most occasional and feeble attempts to even enforce basic safeguards on: In the case of traffic law, it’s accepted if disliked that insurance rates are effectively a major portion of the enforcement mechanism: most people consider tickets to be penny ante stuff compared to ‘points’ on your insurance; but the same attitude isn’t present for credit scores).

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Something like 30 states have filial responsibility laws. It’s already on the books; there just hasn’t been a need to enforce it.

Oregon law
“Duty of support: Parents are bound to maintain their children who are poor and unable to work to maintain themselves; and children are bound to maintain their parents in like circumstances.” Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 109 Section 010


I found the article quote, “The country can’t afford a robust state pension service for these elders…”, equally telling, considering it regards a country that just recently came to have the largest GDP in the world!

ETA: must be keeping up with those capitalist Joneses.


If Chinese credit reporting agencies perform anything like their willfully and egregiously incompetent Western counterparts – and I don’t have any reason to think that they don’t – shit like this will just serve to delegitimize them further.

Then again, any customer (i.e. the people ordering the credit reports, not the victims to whom they pertain) dumb enough to use a single numeric value to determine creditworthiness instead of going to the trouble of analyzing the why of that value deserves to have their market idiotically restricted. If a landlord or a used car dealer can’t tell the difference between “helplessly defaulted on usurious student loans taken out as a teenager” and “declared bankruptcy six times to escape frivolous consumer debt” then they’re at a competitive disadvantage to all the landlords and used car dealers who put the slightest modicum of effort into their fucking jobs.

Maybe I’m being naïvely optimistic though.


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