Chinese Families Get Smaller, Face Growing Pressure to Provide for Elderly Relatives
Yicai Global
/SOURCE : Yicai
Chinese Families Get Smaller, Face Growing Pressure to Provide for Elderly Relatives

(Yicai Global) Nov. 2 -- As the proportion of the elderly Chinese population accelerates in China, families are becoming smaller at an increasing rate, young Chinese are under growing pressure to provide for their elderly parents.

In terms of general wellbeing, the picture is not very bright for China's elderly with the disabled and semi-disabled making up 18.3 percent, around 40.63 million of the total elderly population in rural and urban areas. Only 32.8 percent of respondents said they were in good health, a recent survey conducted by the National Aging Committee of China found.

The current situation requires society to mobilize all forces to provide greater support and more options for elderly care, and different types of old-age care services need to be launched, said a source inside the care industry.

As of 2015, China had over 220 million elderly people aged 60 and above, accounting for 16.1 percent of the total. The NACC estimates that the Chinese elderly population will continue to increase by 10 million a year in the next decade or so.

During the same period, the old-age insurance dependency ratio will reach 2.88 in Chinese companies, that is, every pensioner is equal to less than three working people paying pension contributions. The ratio will drop steeply over time, as seen in the Northeast of China, where an aging population has become a prominent phenomenon, the figure has dropped below 1.55.

The problem is compounded by the size of the immediate family, with more than 60 percent of Chinese families only having two to three members. The small size of families significantly weakens the role played by family in supporting elderly parents.

China introduced the so-called one-child policy in 1980 to curb rapid population growth. As the proportion of the elderly in the total population continued to rise, the policy was relaxed in 2013 to allow couples in which both partners are from single-child families to have a second child.

Another factor is the '4-2-1' family structure resulting from the one child policy, which means if two people marry and have one child, they also have to look after each other's parents, so a husband is responsible for his parents, his wife's parents and his child. It will be an intolerable burden on the young population embarking on careers and raising families to take care of their elderly or infirm parents.

"The existing number of elder care service organizations is still insufficient to meet the needs of elderly people, and this is especially true for disabled and semi-disabled people", said Gui Shixun, professor at East China Normal University and chairman of Shanghai's Society of Gerontology. "Going forward, nursing homes should be designed and constructed in a way that allows them to accept more disabled and semi-disabled elder people, to lighten the burden on their families". Gui said.

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