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March 30, 2012

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Baby boom boosts city's aging population

THE baby boom generation after New China was founded in 1949 is continuing to add to the rapid growth of city residents in their 60s, according to a Shanghai government report.

In 2011 there were an extra 167,400 registered residents over the age of 60, with 80 percent of them under 70.

There is concern that the already heavy pressure on services for senior citizens will intensify in the next five to 10 years, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said yesterday.

People in this "young seniors" group will form the main part of the city's senior population for at least the next few years.

Officials said the phenomenon won't have an immediate effect on the city, because such citizens were relatively healthy and active. But in a decade or so, as they grow older, problems will arise.

As the first senior citizens to be affected by the one-child policy, there are concerns their children may not be able to look after them in their old age.

However, only 3 percent of seniors are expected to spend their old age in retirement homes.

"The city will train more care workers to meet the seniors' needs, so that seniors can lead a smooth life under good care at home," said Gao Julan, deputy director of the bureau. "Meanwhile, we hope that younger seniors will help look after the older ones."

This year the bureau is to establish a project in which 100,000 seniors over 80 will enjoy some services at home, and younger seniors are expected to take part by providing companionship and help with housework.

Up to the end of last year, the city had about 3.4 million registered citizens above the age of 60, or nearly 25 percent of the city's registered population. Officials estimate the proportion will reach its peak in 2020, when the senior population will comprise 30 percent of the total.

Last year almost 160 people in the city became centenarians, an increase of 16 percent compared to 2010. Currently there are 1,156 residents over the age of 100, 249 of them men and 907 women.

Shanghai's oldest resident is 113-year-old Li Suqing, who lives in the Pudong New Area.


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