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It's getting harder to support our numbers everyday

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  • Kenneth Robertson
    Aging population poses tough challenges for China China is well anticipated to become the second nation immediately after Japan that will suffer a rapid aging
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2004
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      Aging population poses tough challenges for China



      China is well anticipated to become the second nation immediately
      after Japan that will suffer a rapid aging of its population in the
      coming decades, according to the Green Book of Population and Labor
      published Monday here in Beijing.

      Issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, or China's top
      think tank, the book focuses on issues related to the demographic
      transition now underway and the current educational development
      situation.

      Compared with developed countries, China's aging problems will
      rapidly arise amid its comparatively poorer social and economic
      conditions, posing severe challenges to the country's lofty ambition
      of building an all-round well-off society.

      Statistics show that, from 2000 to 2007, the number of Chinese people
      aged 65 or older will increase from the current less than 100 million
      to more than 200 million, up over 4 million per year and the aged
      will make up 14 percent of the total population.

      But from 2028 to 2036, the number of the same group will surge from
      200 million to over 300 million, indicating that the aged Chinese's
      total will increase by some 10 million each year and make up 20
      percent of the nation's total population in the end.

      A senior Chinese official claimed last month that China is moving
      closer to the point that is as much as it can bear.

      An earlier New York Times article said that unless some drastic
      transitions happen in China's social policies, the country will
      surely become an aging society with ever faster steps than any other
      world powers in history.

      So, China, like some other countries, is set to handle many tough
      challenges regarding aging-related issues like finance, society and
      productivity.

      Hu Angang, one of China's top economists, said that finding ways to
      ensure the healthy development of China's aging society is the
      biggest challenge China would have to face this century, since China
      has to bear the same social burdens as rich countries with its poor-
      country income level.

      According to the book, during their expected 71-year average life
      span, Chinese people will suffer 8 years of ill health on average,
      causing roaring long-term nursing expenditures. Moreover, with the
      speedy and large scale aging trend of the people, the resources that
      families and society use for daily support and medical care for the
      aged will also surge.

      Spending increase for the aged will surely reduce the country's total
      deposits and thus reduce the general social investment, imposing a
      negative impact on the sustainable, coordinated, steady and fast
      development of the nation's economy.

      China's current framework of the support of the aged will also
      confront historical challenges. There is no doubt that during the
      ongoing mechanism transitional process, the lack of a huge amount of
      pension, or only 44.9 percent of the urban employees and 85.4 percent
      of the retirees covered, remains a tough issue that more governmental
      efforts must focus on.

      Because of the relatively high ratio of those aged from 15 to 59, or
      67 percent of the total population, the burden on their shoulders to
      support the aged has begun to mount.

      According to the book, it is a dire need to tighten management of the
      taxation and funds and the reform of both the urban and rural support
      system is pressing.

      Experts said that with the downsizing of rural families and the
      decrease of farming income, issues should be put on the agenda to
      explore a rural support system of the aged that matches China's
      concrete situation.

      But both Chinese society and families don't have efficient awareness
      of the potential crisis regarding the aged support issues, said
      experts.

      Source: Xinhua
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