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March 11, 2010

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City to sweeten 100th birthdays

STARTING this year, Shanghai centenarians will receive 1,000 yuan (US$143) cash, a birthday cake, a bunch of flowers and a birthday card on their 100th birthdays, the Shanghai Committee on Aging said yesterday.

The birthday card will replace the current "centenarian certificate." District governments will pay for the presents.

Officials said the gesture is meant to make seniors feel happier, and set a good example for the whole society to pay more attention to Shanghai's 3 million seniors.

This first year, the birthday card will be given to all seniors over the age of 100 in the city, and after that it will be only given to new centenarians.

On 100th birthdays, officials with the committees' district branches will go to seniors' home and hold a brief ceremony along with seniors' families to bless them with health and prosperity, said the committee.

Shanghai is now the city with the most serious aging problems in the country due to the large number of elderly people.

The average life expectancy in Shanghai was 81.73 years old last year: 79.42 years for men and 84.06 years for women, according to the Shanghai Population and Family Planning Commission.

For China as a whole, life expectancy averages 73, according to the World Bank.

At the end of last year, the city had 904 citizens older than 100.


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