Adolescents' family obligation and activities in rural and urban Vietnam: Implications for social change

Authors:
Anna S. Lau, Victoria K. Ngo, Lam T. Trung, Bahr Weiss, Heejung Park
Published Online:
18 May 2020
DOI:
10.1002/ijop.12682

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This study examined how urbanisation may modify adolescents' values and activities concerning family obligation by surveying 572 adolescents (Mage = 15.75, SD = .73) in rural and urban Vietnam. Compared with their rural peers, urban adolescents reported a stronger sense of family obligation but spent less time actually engaging in family assistance, findings that were partly explained by urban households' less financial hardship and higher parental education levels. As expected, stronger family obligation values were associated with greater family assistance activities across rural and urban Vietnam. However, stronger family obligation values were associated with more study hours only in urban Vietnam, indicating that urbanisation may broaden the meaning of family obligation to encompass the academic domain. Additionally, weaker family obligation values were associated with more employment hours only in rural Vietnam, suggesting that rural adolescents with little attachment to the traditional value of family obligation may pursue autonomy through employment outside the home. In traditionally familistic societies undergoing urbanisation, family obligation may take on different meaning depending on adolescents' ecological settings that construct cultural values and behavioural norms.

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