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April 19, 2011

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200,000 more over-60s a year

WITHIN the next five years, it is estimated there will be 4.3 million Shanghai residents over the age of 60, or 30 percent of the registered population.

About 200,000 people will reach the age of 60 every year from this year to 2015, double the figure over the past five years, according to the annual report of the Shanghai Research Center on Aging.

This is the result of the baby boom after 1949, the year when the People's Republic was established, the report said.

Officials said that, up to the end of last year, the city had about 3.3 million residents over 60, or around 23 percent of the registered population, an increase of almost 5 percent on 2009.

In contrast, the percentage of senior citizens on the Chinese mainland is about 12 percent.

A key problem, said the report, is that one-child parents will be forming the majority of seniors, and officials are concerned they will meet problems in their final years because of that.

They were born in the first baby boom after 1949, and were the first parents to be subject to the one-child policy, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said.

Statistics indicate that from 2013, some 80 percent of senior citizens in the city will have only one child.

"At present, seniors around the age of 80 have several children to look after them," said Gao Julan, deputy director of the bureau. "But in the future, seniors will have only one child and his or her spouse. And if the child moves abroad or to other places in the country, seniors will be by themselves."

Gao said that at present the problem was not that great, but in 10 to 20 years, when the seniors were that much older, people would begin to see how serious it is.

Officials say they expect to develop community resources for such citizens. For example, they are studying the establishment of an emergency community network so that seniors can find someone to help when they are in trouble.

"The network can be attached to the community service center or to the police, thus people would know when they need help," said Gao.

Another problem was that an increasing number of non-local seniors were coming to the city. There are no solid statistics on this. Yu Xuming, deputy director of the Shanghai census office, said the results of the country's sixth national census was expected early next month, and information about non-local people was included.

"Many college students from other provinces stay in Shanghai after graduation, and the parents of a large number of them will also move to the city after they are retired," Yu said. "So we should also consider their welfare and care in Shanghai."

The number of beds in seniors homes will be 3 percent of the elderly population by 2015, officials said.


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