Monday, May 28, 2007
China's National Committee on Aging
We met with senior government officials today, including Mr. Lei Bengong, President of the CNCA. The CNCA helps to guide aging activities throughout the country. There are many common problems and challenges that China and the US share. Based on some of the statistics presented, and the general tone of our Chinese hosts, it is apparent that that the future conditions of China will be more difficult than those in the US, based on the sheer numbers of the elderly. For example, by 2050, there will be 400 million people age 60+ in China. That is 31% of their entire population. To put this into perspective, 400 million people is more than the entire population of the US right now. In China, in 40 years, one of every three people will be age 60+; one in every four elders will be 80+.
Another point of interest is in the frank and open discussion by our Chinese hosts concerning the breakdown of the traditional values related to respect and reverence for the elderly. This change has taken place over a relatively short period of time as China has changed its economic course as it attempts to become a superpower. Young people are leaving rural areas, and their parents, to seek opportunity in China's major cities. It is not clear how China will address this issue or even if they wish to if it were to interfere with economic growth.
Also evident is China's attempt to balance resources to aid the elderly with their challenges, but to do so in a way that is fiscally responsible and that does not hinder the growth pattern that China has charted for itself.
Tomorrow: visits to aging centers!