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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Aging nation creates nursing home boom (2)

By Tania Lee (China Daily)

08:20, December 05, 2011

The statistics

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China now has more than 178 million people aged 60 or older, approximately 13 percent of the population. By 2042, the elderly will account for more than 30 percent of the population and China will have the biggest aging-society problem of any country in the world, exacerbated largely by its one-child policy. The average lifespan of a Chinese citizen is now 73 years.

"The main issue is not that the population will age - that's a given," said Gordon Orr, director at McKinsey & Co, a global management consultancy. "It's how the government can afford to pay older workers, in terms of pension and other healthcare benefits."

Local governments are discovering that demand far exceeds supply. In rural China, 40 million elderly people will be living on their own during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015) because their children are working elsewhere, testing the country's social services and insurance system.

Wu Yushao, deputy director of the Office of China National Committee on Aging, says the situation poses a huge challenge for China. "Services for the elderly are too weak to handle the situation and the welfare system is still backward and a large number of senior citizens in rural areas are not included," the Xinhua news agency quoted Wu as saying.

Nonetheless, the majority of care homes in rural China are funded and, in most cases, operated by local governments.

Until recently, the central government's focus had predominantly been on the lower socio-economic group in rural areas, an argument that explains why there hasn't been much professional development in the sector.

"The reason why we have not done more work in China is because there was little provision in the middle-income groups and very little in the high-income area," said David Lane of ThomsonAdsett & Partners Pty Ltd, an Australian consulting company that has worked in the sector in Asia since the 1990s.

"Most of them (developers and operators) can only really support the employment of local architects with very limited international assistance," he said.

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Leave your comment1 comments

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helen at 2011-12-05203.82.94.*
Singapore, being a sovereign city State provides many guidelines in looking after aged parents by law and control of nursing homes for the old people. Profiteers exploiting nursing homes are quite common in Hong Kong and other parts of the World. Shortchanging these homes must be punished severely and laws introduced to safeguard the health, safety, security ...of the old people. Where money is involved, criminals will rear their ugly heads ...

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