China faces the challenge of an aging society
China's elderly population is expected to reach its peak of 437 million by 2051 and the twenty years starting from 2030 will be a crucial period for the problem of aging in China.
A report recently released by China National Committee on Aging shows that the next 25 years from now on means both a key preparation period for coping with the problem and a strategic opportunity.
The aging of China's population is accelerating.
China has become an aging society since 1999. By the end of 2004, people over 60 years old had reached 143 million, accounting for 10.97 percent of the nation's total population. So far, China is the world's largest aging population country, taking up one fifth of the world's total.
Li Bengong, a high-ranking official with National Aging Committee pointed out that the aging process in China could be divided into three phases.
The first phase from 2001 to 2020 features the fast aging process. The annual increase of senior citizens stands at 5.96 million, and the total aging population by 2020 will reach 248 million, with an aging growth rate of 17.17 percent.
From 2021 to 2050, accelerated aging will be witnessed. Considering those who were born in baby boom in the 1960s and 1970s, the increase of aging population is expected to hit 6.2 million annually. The aging growth rate will be over 30 percent.
The most severe aging problem will come from 2051 to 2100. Till then, the aging population will reach its peak of 437 million.
The aging growth rate will become stable at around 31 percent after this and people over 80 years old will reach between 80 million to 90 million.
"Bonus period" vital for the preparation for the severe aging problem
Professor Yuan Xin from Institute of Population and Development in Nankai University said that from 1990 to 2033 is a period of "population bonus" for China. Since the drop of birth rate makes the proportion of child fostering decline rapidly and aging population is still small, such a period is conducive to the economic development.
The labour force from 2010 to 2013 will reach its peak of 900 million. And after that the bonus will turn into deficit, which means the aging population that needs care will increase rapidly.
It is said that twenty years starting from 2030 is the gravest time for aging process in China. Therefore, the country should get well-prepared by taking the advantage of "population bonus period for coping with the severe aging problem".
Establishing a sound social security system is the precondition
The report held that China is a typical country that faces the challenge of an aging society before getting rich. It is a long-cycle problem and needs a long time for solution.
The tendency of population increase has been effectively brought under control thanks to China's adherence to the one-child policy. It is estimated that China's total population by 2030 is expected to reach 1.465 billion and China will endure the double pressure from aging and large population, which will definitely pose severe challenge to the country's economic and social development.
The report has also pointed out that China has lagged far behind in terms of awareness, material as well as regulation for coping with the aging problem and the solution to such problem should be included into the national development strategy in the future. The medical care resources and a complete social security system for the aging population requires an early attention. China should set up a sound social security mechanism across the country before the coming of the peak of aging population.
By People's Daily Online
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