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August 18, 2011

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Seniors lament high cost of living

MORE than 60 percent of Shanghai seniors feel that life has become harsher in recent years, especially when it comes to daily consumption and medical care, according to a survey by the Shanghai Statistics Bureau.

The poll questioned 1,500 seniors over age 60 from 14 urban and suburban districts. About 85 percent reported a monthly income of 1,000 yuan (US$156) to 3,000 yuan.

A common complaint was that pension hikes failed to offset inflation. Since 2008, food prices increased 33 percent in the city, while senior pensions fell a bit short, climbing about 30 percent.

"Everything becomes increasingly expensive," said 68-year-old Zhang Guozhong of Baoshan District. "Food, traffic, health care and apartments."

Seniors reported being under financial pressure partly because they not only cover their own daily expenses, but want to leave some money for their children.

"I try to save as much money as possible for the down payment of his apartment," said Zhang. "It's impossible for him to buy an apartment before getting married on his own. But now not much money can be saved."

Only 40 percent of the seniors said they were satisfied with their present apartment, but few have the economic means to improve it, the survey showed

Within the next five years, an estimated 4.3 million Shanghai residents will be over 60. About 200,000 people will reach that age every year from this year to 2015, double the figure over the past five years, according to a report released by the Shanghai Research Center on Aging earlier this year.


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