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April 11, 2014

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Senior population to surpass 6m by 2025

THE number of senior citizens living in Shanghai is set to pass 6 million by 2025, officials said yesterday.

The figure rose 5.5 percent last year to 3.88 million, or 27 percent of the city’s permanent residents, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said in a report. Of the total, 52 percent were women, it said.

The expected peak in the number of seniors (anyone aged 60-plus) over the next decade, is partly due to the baby boom that started in the mid to late-1950s, said Yin Zhigang, deputy director of the Shanghai Research Center on Aging.

“Last year’s rate of increase was unprecedented and the sharp incline is set to continue until 2025,” he said.

Between 2010 and 2025 the average annual growth rate is forecast to be 5.7 percent. That means that by the end of next year, the absolute figure will be more than 4.3 million, or almost 30 percent of the registered population, he said.

As the number of seniors increases, so too does the old-age dependency ratio, an index used to calculate the impact of an aging society on the economy.

In 2012, the ratio in Shanghai was 39.3, indicating there were 39.3 elderly people for every 100 people of working age. By the end of last year the figure had risen to 42.4, meaning that for every five workers in the city there were two senior dependents, the report said.

The rapidly aging population is creating a host of challenges, many of which are care related, Yin said.

As well as the general rise in the number of seniors, between 2025 and 2050 there will be a huge increase in the number of people aged over 70, he said.

Last year, the number of people aged 70-plus rose 1.7 percent from 2012 to 1.72 million, or 12 percent of all permanent residents. The 80-plus total gained 6.7 percent to 715,500, the report said.

It also said there were 1,407 centenarians in the city at the end of last year, of whom 1,051 were women.

Shanghai’s oldest resident is 114-year-old Li Suqing who lives in the Pudong New Area. She said her recipe for a long life is having a glass of milk with an egg and walnut powder in the morning, drinking green tea, watching children’s TV programs, smiling a lot and going to bed about 9pm or 10pm.

Despite the rapidly increasing senior population there is no reason to suggest the upward trend will be detrimental to economic development, Yin said.

“On the contrary, industries and businesses related to the elderly sector should thrive,” he said.

Life expectancy in Shanghai rose slightly last year to 82.47 years, with women now living an average of 84.79 years and men 80.19, the report said.

As the population ages and more young families find they can’t take care of elderly relatives at home, vacancies in senior care facilities have become hard to find.

While the number of beds at registered nursing homes rose 3 percent last year to 108,364, the total represented just 2.8 percent of the city’s over-60s, the report said.

The government has promised to add more beds in the future, but it is also encouraging more nonprofit groups to enter the sector to provide services for the elderly and open nursing homes.


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