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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Elderly women have tougher time than men

By He Dan and Cang Wei (China Daily)

08:27, November 29, 2011

An elderly woman sells melon seeds and guavas in a shopping street in Lanzhou, capital of Northwest China's Gansu province, on Nov 10. Local media reported that the 83-year-old woman has to make a living by hawking even though she has five adult children, all of whom refuse to support her.(China Daily Photo)

BEIJING - A recent official report revealed that Chinese women face more obstacles in their old age than men who are at the same stage in their lives.

Experts blamed that disparity on the tendency of elderly women to have lower incomes and longer lives, according to the report, which was compiled by the National Bureau of Statistics.

In China, nearly 46 percent of women in their 60s rely on children to help them pay for their daily expenses, which is 24 percentage points more than elderly men do, the bureau said at the fifth national meeting on women and children affairs, which was held on Monday.

Meanwhile, only 20 percent of elderly women receive pensions and other retirement benefits, while 30 percent of elderly men do, and 28 percent continue to receive work income after they have hit retirement age, as compared with 43 percent of men.

"The majority of elderly women, especially in rural areas, are housewives who barely had the chance to receive an education 40 years ago or even longer," said Fang Jiake, deputy director of the Hetong Senior Citizens' Welfare Association in Tianjin.

"So women are more vulnerable to poverty in their old age and depend heavily on their children to support them," Fang said.

Even so, he said the situation will improve as young women in China become better educated and come to enjoy job opportunities that are the same as those that are open to men.

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