The Aging Dragon - China

Topics: Welfare, Sociology, Population Pages: 7 (2510 words) Published: January 18, 2013
When it comes to providing solutions to China’s growing elderly population, the coastal city of Dalian in Liaoning province has had to adapt more quickly than the rest of the nation. In 2007, elderly residents of Dalian accounted for 16.85 percent of its population, which is far above the national average of 12.26 percent. According to the United Nations, Chinese aged 65 years and older will account for 16 percent of the population by 2030 and this will increase to 24 percent by 2050. In places like Shanghai, the population has been aging since 1979. It currently has more than 3 million registered individuals over the age of 60 accounting for over 22 percent of its population. As Chinese society changes and modernizes this large demographic shift is set to become one of the major challenges that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will have to manage in order to maintain stability. The most pressing question that the CCP will face in the next 20 to 40 years is who will take care China’s elderly. The growing demographic shift is accompanied by mitigating factors that make this issue of more concern than in other aging societies such as Canada or the United States. China’s immature economy is not yet equip to handle a flood of elderly individuals that will need some sort of social assistance in their golden years particularly for those individuals who cannot rely on traditional methods of eldercare as a result, in the absence of independent social organizations, the state will be forced to fill in this void and shoulder most of the burden of caring for the China’s elderly by developing methods for the delivery of eldercare that are in line with China unique circumstances. Elderly citizens in China are at a great disadvantage compared to those in the West because the population in China is aging well before the nation has fully developed its economy or a reliable social welfare system. For a number of elderly Chinese today particularly in rural areas they were not able to put money aside for their retirement. Most of the grain produced by rural farmers was sold to the government at very low prices and if farmers had a surplus of grain to sell privately it would also yield very low profits. Further, only a small number of working Chinese collect benefits under a public or private pension system and the majority of pension collectors do not reside in rural areas. In 2006, only 55 million farmers had pension insurance, accounting for less than the 10 percent of the farming population. Of the 600,000 farmers over the age of 60 that farm the land in the suburban counties surrounding Beijing only 23,000 have a pension. The lack of a social welfare system available to elderly rural residents stems from the perception that traditional methods of eldercare would continue unaltered by either modernization or urbanization. In rural areas government policy has maintained that the family should continue to be the principal source of support for the elderly and focused instead on implementing policies that would off set the potential negative effects of economic reforms that had taken apart the collective welfare system. While this is true to some extent, the impending demographic shift in China will affect rural populations far more significantly than urban populations and rural areas are not entirely immune to the affects of modernization and urbanization. Currently over 90 million or 60 percent of old people in China live in rural areas and their population is growing at a rate of 850,000 annually. At this pace the elderly population in rural regions alone will reach well over 120 million. While traditional methods may be able to take care of some of these elderly citizens, a large number, like 93-year old Cui Yuhai, a resident of Dalian, have no children and no income and are forced to rely on a government-subsidized homecare worker, a system in wide use in Dalian. Unemployed workers are hired by the local government to work...
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