Spending, not saving; China's youth face problem of aging parents

16:25, September 08, 2010      

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There is a long-established tradition of raising children to provide for living costs in old age in China, and it is one of the most important responsibilities of children to take care of their elderly parents.

However, more and more Chinese youth tend to spend all their earnings before the end of the month because they do not usually earn very much and have no habit of saving money, and they are called the "Moonlight Clan." Overall, they feel quite powerless to provide for their parents.

So what are the difficulties facing the 1980s generation in providing for their parents?

According to a recent survey, more than 74 percent of respondents said that they themselves are under considerable living and working pressure, so it is a hard task for them to support parents. More than 68 percent said that they cannot afford the livings costs of more than two elderly people.

More than 50 percent said that they live in different places from their parents and thus cannot take care of their parents in person, and 42 percent said cost of social security and medical insurance is very inconvenient, which is a great barrier to supporting their parents. Nearly 38 percent consider rest homes and other elderly care institutions unreliable.

According to another random survey targeting the 1980s generation who have worked for five years or more, 99 percent of respondents are "certain" that they cannot provide for their parents for the time being and more than half said they even need financial support from their parents in order to support their own living.

What is worse, China is suffering from increasingly severe problems in regards to the aging population. The number of Chinese people over the age of 60 increased from 126 million in 2000 to 153 million in 2007, and the proportion of these old people in China's total population rose from more than 10 percent to nearly 12 percent.

In addition, the proportion of these old people in the world's elderly population stood at over 21 percent in 2007, which is equivalent to the aggregate of all European people over 60 years old. Behind the dull statistics is an unavoidable social problem: who will look after the elderly in China in the future?

A society must overcome the limitation of simply relying on the old people's children to support them if it wants to build a sound elderly care system. As some experts stressed, the Chinese government should shoulder the main responsibilities so as to reduce single children's burdens. Although the European sovereign debt crisis is largely related to the heavy burden of social security, China should still be determined to improve its old-age pension system at a higher speed.

China has made some progress in improving the pension system in recent years, and more old people have benefited from the government's efforts, but overall there are still many problems. For example, there is a severe shortage of pension funds.

Meanwhile, as the birth rate is dropping and life expectancy is improving, it is important to encourage the use of private capital in building elderly care agencies that fit the specific circumstances of China, so all old Chinese people will be well taken care of. This is how we can respond actively to the problems of the aging population.

By People's Daily Online

(Editor:叶欣)

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