As learned from the 16th conference of the International Federation of Senior Citizen Associations China has become the country with the fastest aging process in the world. By the middle of this century senior citizens in China will have exceeded 400 million making up one fourth of the total population.
Li Bengong, chairman of China National Committee on Aging, said at the meeting China has the largest population of senior citizens. Currently China has more than 130 million senior citizens who are above 60, more than 10 percent of the total population. In the next 50 years China will face even severer situation of aging population.
The aging process in China is currently the fastest in the world. Since the year 2000 when China entered the phase of aging society some parts of China have shown an aging trend of the aged population. Since most young and middle-aged persons go to other areas for employment and business the aging degree of China's rural areas is generally higher than that in cities.
The aging problem is not only a family problem but also a social problem. How to better establish complete social security and social assistance and aid systems so that the old people are supported and are provided with health services; how to improve institutions of senior citizens and the construction of relevant legal system so that their legal rights and interests are safeguarded, these are topics that China urgently needs to study.
Aging issue cries out for more solutions
A senior official in charge of elderly people's welfare is calling upon all sectors to attach greater importance to the emerging problem China faces with an aging society and ways to find answers to assist people.
"If we do not attach enough importance to the rapidly growing aging population and a flurry of social and economic problems in succession, aging problems will become a big obstacle to the pace of China's economic development and the development of democracy," warned Zhao Baohua,a senior offi-cial of China National Committee on Aging.
Zhao made the remarks during a news conference on Tuesday in Beijing for the launch of "Silent Revolution," a large-scale documentary and report on aging in China.
The documentary will air for the first time this Friday on CCTV 10 on what is traditionally Chinese Senior Citizens' Day.
Zhao said that in the next decade, aging problems will become more obvious.
Thirty-five years ago the population proportion of children and the aged was six to one. However, 35 years later the elderly population is two times greater than the number of children, according to an analysis of China's population and economy by the China Business Times.
Meanwhile, the aging problem has already become a global headache. In Thailand, more than half the population is over 30. The number of people aged over 60 is set to increase from 6 per cent this year to 9 percent in the next five years.
In the next 20 years, the elderly will account for 14 percent of the total population there, while children will only represent 12 percent.
The Chinese Government is now focusing on improving its insurance systems and vigorously exploring the aging market to cope with the elderly population, which will reach its zenith in 2030, according to a latest report issued by the Information Office of the State Council.
Therefore, products that can make people healthier and look younger have started to attract the attention on an increasing number of consumers.
An investigation by he China Research Centre on Aging showed that 42.8 percent of aging people in urban districts possess savings and by the end of 2010, the retirement pensions of elderly people in China will hit 838.3 billion yuan (US$101 billion). Most of that capital will pour into the market.
But the actual situation of the market pales in comparison with the enormous potential market. Although many large enterprises and business people already have begun fixing their eyes on the vast market, most of them are cautious.
"Since the majority of the aged care about their health most, various concoctions promoting vigour sell well," said Wang Shimei, a sales woman at the special counter for middle and aged people at Anzhen branch of Beijing Hualian Mall.
Anti-aging products, tonics, garments and other aging-related products appear on the aging counters. New vacations and services especially for aging people such as tourism and gymnasiums have also emerged. However, the quantity, quality and style of the products still lag behind those for women and children.
Wang also said that some consumers complain about the styles of garments, which are out of date. In a bid to satisfy the needs of the aged, the Hualian Mall began to design and make the garments.
Experts say that the exploration of the elderly products market must accord with such consumers' characteristics and practical demands.
By People's Daily Online/China Daily