It's getting harder to support our numbers everyday
- 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
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
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
But both Chinese society and families don't have efficient awareness
of the potential crisis regarding the aged support issues, said