China’s Aging Population: A Major Challenge

BEIJING — China’s decades-long “One-Child” policy has fundamentally transformed the family structure in the country. Today, the population pyramid is inverted: a single child must support two parents and four grandparents, placing an enormous burden on the younger generation and the Chinese elderly care system. This demographic shift poses a serious challenge for the nation, particularly concerning the care and support of older individuals.
Impact of Demographic Change
China’s aging population is exacerbating an existing issue: slower growth in labor productivity. The declining birth rate and increasing life expectancy mean that fewer workers are available to care for the elderly. Simultaneously, the demand for age-appropriate facilities such as nursing homes and healthcare infrastructure is rising.

It has been projected that the proportion of seniors will double by 2050, reaching approximately 38 percent of the total population.

China has not yet formally announced changes to the retirement age, which currently ranks among the lowest globally. Currently, the retirement age is 60 for men, 55 for female office workers, and 50 for women employed in factories.

As the pension system will struggle to support the growing number of needy retirees in the future, older individuals are increasingly relying on private initiatives that offer affordable food and necessities, in addition to their families.

Measures by the Chinese Government

To address this challenge, the Chinese government is implementing several measures:

  1. Raising the Retirement Age: China plans to raise the retirement age to meet the demands of the aging population. This move aims to alleviate pressure on pension budgets.
  2. Promoting Investment in Automated Industries: As traditional industries like manufacturing become less attractive due to rising wages, China is increasingly focusing on capital-intensive sectors driven by automation. This could help mitigate the labor shortage and boost productivity.
  3. Developing Care Infrastructure: The government is encouraging the expansion of care facilities and training for healthcare professionals to meet the needs of the growing elderly population.

Increased Use of Modern Technologies

In China, numerous companies and startups have discovered a new market: the care of older people using cutting-edge technology solutions. Examples include:

  1. Central Data Collection: In massive command centers, real-time health data from approximately 160,000 seniors are collected. Parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate, movements, and more are monitored. Deviations trigger alarms, and call centers then contact the caregivers.
  2. Motion Sensors: Residential complexes use motion sensors. If no movement is detected over a specific period, family members or community workers receive notifications. This technology enables rapid responses in emergencies.
  3. Care Robots: Intelligent robots monitor the health status of older individuals. They measure blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate, with results transmitted to caregivers.
  4. Smart Wearables: Bracelets and other wearable devices track health parameters like sleep hours and step count. These data can be used for monitoring and early detection of health issues.
  5. Virtual Nursing Homes: In major cities like Lanzhou, facilities are caring for thousands of elderly individuals using various technologies. These virtual nursing homes blend human assistance with digital solutions.

    Ensuring the Future for All Generations

    China’s aging population necessitates a comprehensive strategy to address the challenges. The government must consider both economic development and social security to ensure a sustainable future for all generations. (hz)  Photo: Xinhua