Latest News:  
Beijing   Overcast/Moderate rain    9 / 12 ℃  City Forecast

English>>China Society

'Left-behind elderly' big worry for migrants

(Shanghai Daily)

11:17, October 22, 2012

THE traditional, family-based elderly care system in China is facing a great challenge, as seen in a survey released yesterday showing nearly 70 percent of the migrant workers visit home only once every six months or at longer intervals.

The survey, carried out by, an online job-hunting site, interviewed 9,751 migrant workers. It looked into the situation and problems of their parents, sometimes called the "left-behind elderly," who often live in remote, rural areas.

Nearly 20 percent of the respondents said they find it difficult to see their parents even once a year due to growing financial and work pressure in big cities.

High transportation cost, lack of vacation and intensity of work are all factors that keep migrant workers from going home despite their strong desire to see their parents.

The infrequency of visiting parents has resulted in less care for the elderly - nearly a third said their parents live alone and are left unattended back home. The respondents said they would send money home or ask relatives to take care of their parents. But what they worried about most is their parents' health.

Chen Dongfang, a 30-year-old migrant worker at an aluminum alloy processing plant in Shanghai, said he wished there were a small clinic close to his village in central China's Henan Province so that his mother, who has chronic bronchitis, wouldn't have to walk several kilometers to the hospital in the county.

"Every time my mother phoned and told me she was sick, the news had me on edge though I knew I could do nothing here in Shanghai," Chen said.

Chen moved to Shanghai with his wife in 2006 but his parents, both in their 60s, still work in the field while taking care of two grandsons, aged 8 and 9.

Like Chen, up to 40 percent of the respondents said they are afraid of parents getting ill with age, and they have no preparations in place if that were to suddenly happen.

"It is widely seen in rural areas that elderly people, again, become the family's primary workers in the field when the young workforce leaves home for big cities," said Lydia Wang, who conducted the survey.

According to the survey, 28 percent of the respondents' parents worked to support themselves and 35 percent are mainly supported by their children. According to China Agricultural University, as of 2008, the left-behind elderly numbered 20 million.
Most viewed commentaries

Recommended News
Nude modeling challenges values Apple's plans bearing fruit in new store More funds to pull people out of poverty
Ornamental hen gives birth to tiny egg 4 dead  in central China bus accident Low floor light rail train starts operation


Leave your comment0 comments

  1. Name


Selections for you

  1. Armed helicopters conduct night training

  2. Artillery regiment in exercise

  3. Music dream in slums

  4. Toys, gifts show held in Hong Kong

  5. Craftmanship of artisans in China's 'Porcelain Capital'

  6. Figures indicate a further slowdown

  7. 9th Int'l Shaolin Wushu Festival opens

  8. Sexy photos of top lingerie model

Most Popular


  1. Turkey makes case for buffer zone in Syria
  2. China dominate second US presidential debate
  3. Theft of Diaoyu Islands won't be concealed
  4. China-Japan hotline shelved
  5. Commentary: Stimulus should be small
  6. Why foreign investors should stay?
  7. Blessed are those who are happy
  8. Experts on touch-and-go landing on the Liaoning
  9. There is no justification for street violence
  10. Tokyo shrine visit angers neighbors

What’s happening in China

Foreign schools woo Chinese students

  1. Surveillance ships patrol around Diaoyu Islands
  2. Web users angered over Japan tour
  3. Mileage plan for train riders is in the works
  4. Couple's road-trip romance makes a moving book
  5. Locals oppose changes to gaokao policy