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October 23, 2009

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Seniors need more care

EXPERTS are calling for better care of elderly people as more than half of seniors in most cities across the country live in "empty nests."

More than 8.3 percent of the population is above 65, and in most cities, more than 50 percent of the elderly live without their children, a group referred to as "empty nest" families, said Chen Chuanshu, vice director of the National Office on Aging and chairman of the Chinese Aging Association.

Experts attributed the "empty nest" problem partly to the single child policy that started about 30 years ago and the changing values of filial piety.

Many young people now work outside their hometown, and even if they are in the same city where their parents live, they tend to live alone after marriage, Chen noted.

In rural areas, the problem is driven by migration of young people. The country has hundreds of millions of migrant workers from rural areas who leave their parents at home.

Due to the hukou policy, or the policy of registered permanent residence, their parents can't go with them, Chen said.

It is a complicated issue, which requires the efforts of the entire society, said Liu Jitong, associate professor at Peking University's Management School of Public Health.


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