When speaking of China and its aging population the first thought that comes to mind to many is the recent decision to raise the much spoken about 1 child policy to 2 children. Allowing parents to have two children will make strides in reducing the burden of the 70% of elderly people who are financially dependent on their children due to limitations of government pensions. Despite this Morgan Winsor reports for the International Business Times that china is predicted to have the “world’s most aged society in 2030”
(Winsor 2015), an alarming prediction for any economic structure.
China now finds itself searching for a solution to this aging population and, in addition to the amendment on the 1 child policy, opportunities include: eliminating retirement, keeping seniors active and employed and investing in research against illnesses frequently associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s (Hodin 2015). While Hodin suggests for the Fiscal Times that these are three potential initiatives I would debate that they all fall under an umbrella concept of creating a healthy, happy elderly population inspired by and engaged in the workforce. As designers we could adopt this as an initial brief and break it down to identify the social, cultural, economic, technological and political barriers to bringing about this change. For instance within Chinese culture, an elderly person working could be perceived as a weakness while technological advancements mean elderly workers would need training to equip them with new skills in the rapidly developing technological landscape.
The notion of retirement is often brought on by two factors: either a worker has become physically or mentally unable to perform their job or they have earned enough money to be able to live off a pension. As a product designer I have a particular interest in human centred design and discovering the foundation of problems in order to create meaningful solutions. I feel there is scope for innovation within the cities of China to help mobilise and empower the aging population to lead healthy lifestyles, such as convenience stores in Japan incorperating elderly friendly sections. In turn this may lead to the elderly population feeling inspired, confident and capable to either re-enter or remain in the workforce.
Jim Beard, 2016.
Bailey, D. Ruddy, M & Schukine, M. 2012, Aging China: Changes and Challenges, BBC, N/A, viewed 17 October 2016,<http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-19630110>.
Winson, M. 2012, China’s One-Child Policy Change Will Take Decades To Relieve Economic Pressures Of Aging Population, International Business Times, N/A, viewed 17 October 2016,<http://www.ibtimes.com/chinas-one-child-policy-change-will-take-decades-relieve-economic-pressures-aging-2161789>.
Hodin, M. 2015, How China can Deal with its Rapidly Aging Population, The Fiscal Times, N/A, viewed 18 October 2016,<http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2015/11/03/How-China-Can-Deal-Its-Rapidly-Aging-Population>.
Marlow, I. 2016, Japan’s Bold Steps, Stanford Medicine, The Globe and Mail, viewed 28 October 2016,<http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/retirement/retire-planning/how-japan-is-coping-with-a-rapidly-aging-population/article27259703/>.