According to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) China’s aging population (65+) is set to reach 300 million by 2050, which is a significant rise from data collected in 2000 of 90 million people. (Population Reference Bureau 2010) Prior to the One Child Policy being introduced, China experienced a 20% national growth rate. However once this policy was introduced fertility rates plummeted, which resulted the rapid increase of aging citizens today and in the near future. This rapid increase could result in a number of major issues for not only aging Chinese residents but also younger and future generations. These issues include living arrangements, pressure on the Chinese health and insurance sectors and economic factors.
(Chart demonstrating that the aging population in China will increase rapidly)
Within the Chinese culture, elderly rely on their family for support, as they are not likely to receive pensions, with under half of its aging population not receiving any financial support from the state. Further, very little Chinese elderly live in an institution such as a retirement village, with the only need to be there if they have no spouse, children or someone that can care for them. This could result in a number of major issues including; overcrowding within a house, social isolation because the elderly could become too dependent on their family, and loss of income for the family as at least one member of the family would have to not work to act as a caregiver for the aging citizen. An opportunity that could arise from this would be to encourage people to move to retirement villages and other institutions by incentivising the process. For example a system like ‘The House That Fits’ (See Blog 2).
The Chinese healthcare and insurance sectors will also be under a large strain with the increase population of the aging population. Due to the introduction of the market system for the Chinese economy, a city based social health insurance scheme was introduced in 1980, which has left rural residents and many lower class urban citizens uninsured and without access to health care. This could result in major implications relating to the aging population because, as their health deteriorates, the more prevalent the need for accessible health care is. Which begs the question, how can the aging population in China gain suitable care at a reasonable price?
Finally, as the majority of China’s gdp is based around youthful input into the economy, the rapid increase in the aging population could result in a major downfall in the economy as more resources and time would have to be spent caring for elders, in terms of children having to look after elderly, retirement schemes, pensions and health care and insurance. This introduces the potential for China to generate work accessible by the older generation, to maintain economic stability whilst upholding care for the elderly?
Overall, the aging population in China poses a large threat in the years to come for a number of reasons, and needs to be solved before the problem becomes too severe.
Written by Josh Stevens
Population Reference Bureau 2010, ‘China’s rapidly ageing population’, Program and Policy Implications, no. 20, viewed 29 October 2016, <http://www.prb.org/pdf10/todaysresearchaging20.pdf>.
Sheng, S. 2008, ‘The health and well-being of the elderly in China: evidence from the China health and retirement longitudinal study (CHARLS)-Pilot’, USC U.S.-China Institute, viewed 29 October 2016, <http://china.usc.edu/health-and-well-being-elderly-china-evidence-china-health-and-retirement-longitudinal-study-charls>.
Guo, J. 2013, ‘Ageing healthcare infrastructure development: impacts on the health and wellbeing of the Chinese elderly’, Stanford Journal of Public Health, viewed 29 October 2016, <http://web.stanford.edu/group/sjph/cgi-bin/sjphsite/aging-and-healthcare-infrastructure-development-impacts-on-the-health-and-wellbeing-of-the-chinese-elderly/>.
Centre for Strategic and International Studies 2015, Does China have an aging problem?, viewed 30 October 2016, <http://chinapower.csis.org/aging-problem/>.
y change will take decades to relieve economic pressures of aging population, experts say’, International Business Times, viewed 30 October 2016, <http://www.ibtimes.com/chinas-one-child-policy-change-will-take-decades-relieve-economic-pressures-aging-2161789>.