China Had More than 260M People Over 60 At End of 2016
On August 3, 2017, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs announced that the country had more than 230 million people age 60+ by the end of 2016, accounting for close to 17% of the population. According to WHO standard, a country with more than 10% of the population age 60+ is classified as an “aging society”. China has long past this threshold. According to the United Nations, China is aging faster than almost any other country currently, projected to reach 330 million retirees over 65 years old by 2050, roughly the total population of the United States, and about half of the total population in Europe.
Faced with this tsunami of older citizens, the Chinese government is, quite understandably, in a bit of panic right now. Unfortunately, panicking doesn’t make the problem go away. Something has to be done. So, in response, the Chinees government announced a comprehensive national strategy to “face the issue of aging population heads-on” in its 13th Five-Year-Plan, including new population and birth control policy, new employment structure, retirement, social security, healthcare, and social engagement. According to the Chinese government plan, by 2020, China will
- keep China’s total population at 1.42 billion by the end of 2020.
- Provide 90% of the elderly with social security coverage.
- Provide 95% of the elderly population with comprehensive medical and mental health insurance.
- Ensure that 70% of the elderly population is under health management regime.
- 90% of cities, towns, and villages will have Associations for the Elderly to manage and advocate for their welfare.
Well, these goals are all nice and good, but getting there is a bit challenging, to say the least. So the Chinese government, since 2016, has been sending out feelers to other countries for collaboration, both in terms of technology and products, and in terms of services. Provincial and local governments are tasked with helping private enterprises and overseas investors to launch elderly care services in China. http://english.gov.cn/policies/latest_releases/2016/12/23/content_281475523074817.htm
China is the biggest potential market for elderly care products and services
One in three people in China will be aged over 65 by 2050, according to China’s National Statistics Bureau. How to care for all these people? The Chinese market, driven by the impending demographic time bomb, is hungry for some actual, working solutions. According to the China Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands,
“Elderly care is expected to surpass real estate as China’s largest industry within next 10-15 years, and is estimated to be worth RMB 1.8 trillion by 2020 and RMB 7.6 trillion by 2050.”
At-home care means more tech demand
The Chinese elderly care market is quite different from that of the U.S. and Europe. The Confucius concept of “filial piety” means that the vast majority of the elderly prefer to be cared at home instead of moving into nursing homes. According to the Chinese government survey, 90% of the elderly prefers to stay at home, 7% to be cared in the community, and 3% at external institutions. So the original idea of moving the elderly into nursing homes, and leverage the economy of scale turned out to be practical for just a small subset of the total elderly population. It’s not about “access”. It’s about culture.
So the whole China elderly care market is shifting direction – from solely focused on building more nursing homes, to develop more technology product to enable at-home care. The Chinese consumers are also the most technically-savvy consumers. Omron sells more blood pressure monitors in China than in the United States, for example, because Chinese consumers like to buy medical supplies directly and learn to basically nurse themselves.
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