China will invest more on infrastructure to serve its senior citizens as preparation for the coming peak in ageing, expected to appear around 2030, an official document said.
According to the 11th Five-Year Plan for the Aged Population (2006-10) promulgated by the China National Committee on Ageing and approved by the State Council on September 21, elderly people will enjoy improved services in the coming five years.
The plan says 10,000 more senior citizens' universities and schools will be established across the country by 2010.
Cultural and recreational places such as parks, museums, exhibition halls and libraries will provide more services, free or discounted, to senior citizens.
Li Bengong, executive vice chairman of the committee, said 2.2 million and 800,000 nursing homes beds would be added in rural and urban areas respectively by 2010.
Statistics provided by the committee show that 5 percent of elderly people in the country want to live in nursing homes but the number of beds limits the proportion to just 0.84 percent.
Li said China will both allocate and raise more money to build a social security system for the elderly. It will also provide more facilities for them.
In urban areas, the poor elderly population will be included into the lowest life guarantee system, enabling them to receive regular life allowances.
In rural areas, the system of aiding destitute families will be improved to provide regular relief funds to poor elderly farmers who have lost their ability to work.
The plan stresses the importance of governmental policies to promote the development of an "elderly people industry."
Private and foreign capital will be encouraged to establish various institutions and companies to serve senior citizens, such as in the fields of medicine, medical service and appliances, entertainment, tourism agencies, finance, assurance, psychiatric consultation, legal service and nursing homes.
The plan requires that a special job market be built to exploit the valuable human resources represented by talented elderly people.
A national database of talented senior citizens will be created, according to the plan.
China has now an aged population (aged 60 or above) of 143 million, representing 11 percent of the total population.
The committee predicts that the number will rise to 174 million in 2010, accounting for 12.78 percent of the total population.
(China Daily October 2, 2006)