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Chinese public calls for investment in elderly care


16:11, November 13, 2012

BEIJING, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Most Chinese hope the government will increase its investment in care for the elderly, according to the results of an online survey published on Tuesday.

In a poll conducted by the China Youth Daily, 86.4 percent of 8,476 respondents said they want more government investment in rehabilitation and care for senior citizens over the next decade, according to a report in the Tuesday edition of the newspaper.

The issue of caring for the elderly has become imperative, as it concerns the people's livelihoods, the newspaper quoted Tong Xiao, a social development researcher at the East China University of Political Science and Law, as saying.

Tong urged greater commitment by public organizations and volunteers to take care of the elderly, adding that the aging population will create an increasing burden for the government.

In the survey, more than half of respondents said high pressure in the workplace and living costs have made it difficult to take care of their own parents.

About 39.7 percent of the people surveyed said it is not feasible for them to move their parents closer to home to look after them, while 36.4 percent said they believe nursing homes are not currently suitable for their parents.

Moreover, restrictions in the current medicare insurance system, which requires cumbersome procedures for people to get coverage for medical fees incurred outside of their registered area of residence, have made it even more difficult for elderly parents to visit and live with their only children working in other cities, Tong said.

The survey indicated that 64.1 percent of the respondents wanted the government to expand coverage for pension plans, while 52.4 percent said a gap in pension plans between urban and rural areas, as well as between different kinds of employers, must be eliminated.

Disparities in different pension plans have caused many young people to change their career choices and thus affected the distribution of human resources, since many people end up choosing positions in government departments or government-sponsored organizations in order to secure their pensions, said Zhang Yi, a researcher with the Institute of Sociology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

A telephone survey conducted by the Guangzhou Public-Opinion Research Center indicated that about 66 percent of Chinese have confidence in the government's ability to provide elderly care.

More than 60 percent of the survey's 5,000 respondents said they are content with the current pension system, while 41 percent of people from low-income groups said they disapprove.

Pension payments are still below the average living standard for most cities and townships because the government is still working to expand the system to cover more people, said Shen Shuguang, a professor at the Lingnan College at Sun Yat-sen University.

Shen suggested increasing personal contributions and fiscal support for the pension system in order to raise the payment level in the future.

In a speech delivered at the opening of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Nov. 8, President Hu Jintao said the Party will intensify efforts to improve basic public services and ensure that everyone can enjoy access to education, employment, medical care and housing.


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