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'Silver' economy grows with aging population

By Liu Yukun | China Daily | Updated: 2023-01-26 07:21

Some senior citizens use exercise equipment at a park in Beijing. [PHOTO by ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY]

Businesses find opportunities in giving seniors more meaningful lives

After saying goodbye to her grandchild at the school gates, Hu Chunmei started to think of ways to pass the day.

Hu migrated from her home village in Hubei province to Beijing to help her daughter with child-rearing about eight years ago. Since her granddaughter started school in August, she knew she had to adjust to a new routine.

"It's much harder than I thought. I tried guangchangwu — a style of dancing as a group in public — with friends I met in the community,going out to restaurants and learning calligraphy … but got bored very soon. I even thought of finding a job but all I could do was cleaning and recycling bottles," she said.

Hu is not alone in attempting to find meaning in their retirement life. As the group with probably the most disposable income without housing or education pressures,seniors' demand for a quality life is supporting the rapid development of the "silver" economy.

According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, by the end of 2021, there were 267 million people aged 60 or above, accounting for 18.9 percent of the total population.

Li Banghua, deputy head of the ministry's nursing services department, said at a news conference that the total population of those aged 60 and above is likely to surpass 300 million by the end of 2025, accounting for more than 20 percent of the total population.

"Developing the elderly service industry is growing to be an important way to cope with the aging population," he said.

The growing group is also possessing increasing spending power.A report by consultancy iiMedia showed that in 2021, the market size of the elderly care industry reached 8.8 trillion yuan ($1.3 trillion), a year-on-year growth of 22.3 percent,and the market size is expected to reach 12 trillion yuan in 2023.

The government has also rolled out a series of measures to support the elderly care sector. The Ministry of Civil Affairs and the Ministry of Finance have arranged a total of 1.1 billion yuan to support 42 regions in building in-house senior care beds and providing home-based services for disabled elderly people and those with financial difficulties.

The "in-house senior care beds"refers to a mechanism that the government has been promoting,through which seniors can enjoy professional nursing and health monitoring services at home the same way they would in a nursing home.

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