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Govt investing heavily in aging baby boom generation
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08:51, April 08, 2009

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China will be throwing some gold at its silver population.

The country will build four state-level demonstration bases in Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing and Jiangsu this year to deal with its aging population, an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) said yesterday.

The centers could function as prototypes for future care of the aged. "We want to turn elderly care services into an industry in the long run," said Wang Hui, with the MCA's social welfare and philanthropy undertakings promotion department.

The ministry will allocate 100 to 200 million yuan ($14.6 to 29.3 million) to each development to improve basic facility construction. When added to local government investment, total spending for each is likely to reach 400 to 500 million yuan, he said. Wang said the facilities will offer more complete services for senior citizens than are currently available.

China faces mounting pressure from a growing silver-haired population because of a baby boom in the 1950s.

It will see a major increase in the population of the elderly, especially those over 80 years old, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said in early February.

"There will also be an increase in 'empty-nest' families, (old people living without their children)," he told a conference.

Nearly 160 million people in China are aged 60 and above, 6 million more than in 2007. They account for 12 percent of China's population.

Beijing is one of the cities leading the charge into a silver population, with its seniors numbering 2.1 million in 2007, out of a permanent population of 16.3 million, said Lin Haiyan, an official in charge of old-age affairs of the capital's civil affairs bureau.

"This year the city will add 15,000 beds in old-age support facilities, and the city is expected to have 180,000 beds in total in 2020," Lin told China Daily.

The ministry will oversee facilities construction standards and management patterns as well as set levels of medical and healthcare service personnel for the developments, he said, while land-use and scale of the projects will be up to city and township governments.

The ministry's vice-minister, Dou Yupei, also said last month it was exploring the idea of introducing social investments like a lottery welfare fund as well as social donation and purchasing services to better manage elderly care institutions in the long run.

Source: China Daily

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