Retired doctor Chen Xu chose to live with his accountant daughter – also retired. The 79-year-old woman spends her days gardening, walking and chatting with neighbours. He has hearing problems and some muscle weakness but is generally healthy.
She shared: “My former coworkers told me it would be better to live in a nursing home because there is professional medical care there. But I prefer to be with my daughter and her husband.”
China will “age rapidly” in the next decade. Photo: Reuters
Ms Chen is one of about 210 million people over the age of 65 in China, according to The Straits Times. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be about 400 million people over the age of 65 in the country, which is about 1/3 of the population.
The number of elderly people is expected to increase by nearly 100 million over the next decade, increasing the economic and social burden on China’s workforce.
With increasing life expectancy (78.2 years in 2021), improving general health of the population, and a low birth rate (1.09 in 2022), China’s population is aging rapidly. For comparison, life expectancy in the US is 76.4 years (2021) and the birth rate is 1.66 (2021).
As China’s economic growth slows, particularly in recent months as Beijing tries to recover from years of tight containment of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are concerns that China is aging. Move forward before becoming a rich country.
The World Bank (WB) said that China’s average income is high but the number of people vulnerable to poverty is high. With a rapidly aging population, China faces the problem of inadequate pension and health care systems that must meet the needs of the growing number of elderly people.
To control population growth in the late 1970s, Beijing introduced a one-child policy to prevent couples from having multiple children.
As China’s economy develops and Chinese women become more educated and have more job opportunities, they decide to have fewer children. The number of childless couples is increasing.
In 1980, the first year the one-child policy was implemented, 17.76 million children were born in China. The number reached 25 million babies in 1987, before declining. By the time China hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008, approximately 16 million children had been born.
In 2022, China’s population is set to decline for the first time in decades to just 9.56 million newborns. Policy observers should be alarmed that China is aging nearly a decade ahead of schedule. Demographers predict that China will enter a period of rapid aging by 2030.
Notably, a 2019 report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences revealed that the country’s main pension fund could be exhausted by 2035 due to a shrinking workforce.
Some experts say China needs to raise the retirement age.
Meanwhile, some elderly people in China may want to continue working as long as they feel mentally alert rather than simply staying at home.