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More measures sought for aiding elderly population

By Wang Hongyi (China Daily)

08:29, March 06, 2012

Elderly people chat and rest at Wangzhu Nursing Home in Wanzhou district, Chongqing, last September. (Chen Cheng / Xinhua)

Officials are calling for measures to cope with the rapid growth of the country's elderly population.

By the end of 2011, the number of Chinese who were 60 or older had hit 185 million, and that group made up about 13.7 percent of the population.

Just a year before, the number had been 177.6 million, according to a report released by the China National Committee on Ageing on March 1.

And the increases are only expected to come more rapidly in the future.

Officials say the number of people who are 60 or older will exceed 200 million by next year and reach 400 million by 2033. According to predictions, every year from 2014 to 2033 will see the addition of 10 million elderly people on average.

By the end of 2015, China will be home to 24 million people who are 80 or older. They will make up 11.1 percent of the population. Meanwhile, more than 51 million people who are 65 or older will be "empty nesters", or parents whose children have moved out, according to Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo.

Chen Chuanshu, executive deputy director of the China National Committee on Ageing, said the aging issues deserve attention, especially since they are likely to be of great consequence for social and economic development.

He said departments that deal with aging issues should prepare to cope with the difficulties that can arise from having a large elderly population.

So far, the central government is planning to establish and improve a health support and service system for the elderly.

It is also looking to extend the country's old-age pension system to all senior citizens in coming years and further improve the pension benefits.

In January, Tibet became the first region in China to extend old-age pensions to all senior citizens, according to Xinhua News Agency.

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