Who Will Care for the #Elderly in China
For centuries, children obeyed ancient traditions dictating they were responsible for taking care of their elders, but some figures show the change. Today in China there are roughly 266,000 beds in nursing homes, up from virtually none 30 years ago. Modern government edicts have sought to codify ancient rules of filial duty, but the role of the family has shifted in China. Roughly 40 percent of seniors now live alone rather than in multigenerational households.
There are 178 million Chinese over age 60, and more than 11 percent of this group is over age 80. The one-child-per-couple policy enacted for the ethnic Han majority has increased the burden on working generation; one child often must care for two parents and four grandparents. When young people move to the cities for jobs, they often leave elderly parents alone in their villages. Even when grandparents move to cities with their families, those grandparents are often left alone during the day. Consequently, in the new China, the demand for housing for seniors is real.
The country now must create the supply. Financing is a key issue and currently the Chinese government subsidizes the construction of non-profit facilities. China has sought foreign investment capital, but a few publicised failures have hovered over investors. Yet, buildings still rise. A small percentage of seniors in China wanting to live in expensive retirement communities make up a robust luxury market, but the needs of the great majority of people who cannot afford such a community must be addressed.
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