The National Health Commission issued the 2020 National Bulletin on the Development of Utilities for Senior Citizens on Oct 15. As of Nov 1 last year, 264.02 million people, or 18.7 percent of the total population, consisted of citizens aged 60 and over, with 190.64 million people aged 65 and over, accounting for 13.5 percent of the population. The national dependency ratio for seniors was 19.7 percent, an increase of 7.8 percentage points since 2010.
The main data results of the 7th National Census reveal that China’s elderly population has the following features: a large urban population; increasing numbers of elderly people; differences in the level of aging between urban and rural areas; and improving levels of education. It also revealed that younger seniors made up more than half of the total population.
Of the country’s 31 provinces, 16 had an elderly (aged 65 and over) population of more than 5 million, with six home to more than 10 million seniors each. Compared with the figures for 2010, China’s elderly population aged 60 and over and 65 and over has increased by 86.37 million and 71.81 million, respectively, accounting for an increase of 5.44 percentage points and 4.63 percentage points of the total population.
The level of aging in rural areas was significantly higher than in urban areas. The proportion of the rural population aged 60 and over and 65 years and over in the total rural population was 23.81 percent and 17.72 percent, respectively.
Among the elderly population aged 60 and over, the proportion of the population with a high school education was 13.9 percent, an increase of 4.98 percentage points over 2010. Among the elderly population aged 60 and over, 147.4 million, or 55.83 percent, were aged 60 to 69; 80.82 million, or 30.61 percent, were aged 70 to 79; and 35.8 million, or 13.56 percent, were aged 80 or over.
For the first time in 2020, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) put forward a national strategy to respond to the country’s aging population. By the end of 2020, there were six national clinical research centers for geriatric diseases, 2,642 general hospitals with at least secondary-level geriatric departments, 510 hospitals with hospice facilities, and about 127.19 million senior citizens aged 65 and over receiving some kind of healthcare, and 91 municipalities (districts) conducting trials for a national hospice care system.
In July 2020, the National Health Council organized a pilot project on remote collaborative services for the integration of medicine and nursing, and approved 174 medical and nursing institutions to conduct the trial. By the end of 2020, there were 5,857 medical and nursing institutions with two certificates, an increase of 22.1 percent on the previous year. The total number of beds reached 1.585 million, an increase of 21.7 percent on the previous year. The number of signed cooperative agreements between medical and health institutions and nursing service institutions reached 72,000, an increase of 27.7 percent on the previous year. More than 90 percent of the nursing institutions offered some kind of health services to seniors.
In 2020, the central government provided 993 million yuan ($155.22 million) to support its continuing pilot reforms of home and community nursing services. By the end of 2020, there were 329,000 nursing institutions and facilities in China with a total of 8.21 million beds, an increase of 5.9 percent on the previous year, accounting for 31.1 beds per 1,000 senior citizens. In 2020, the central budget allocated 2.8 billion yuan to support the construction of nursing service facilities for elderly people with limited resources. In 2020, the country spent a total of 51.7 billion yuan on welfare for its senior citizens.
By the end of 2020, the number of people participating in basic pension insurance nationwide was 998.65 million, an increase of 31.11 million on the end of the previous year. In 2020, the number of people covered by National Basic Medical Insurance was 1.361 billion — a participation rate of more than 95 percent. In 2020, the total income of the Basic Health Insurance Fund (including maternity insurance) was 2,484.6 billion yuan, an increase of 1.7 percent over the previous year, accounting for about 2.4 percent of GDP, and total expenditure by the Basic Health Insurance Fund (including maternity insurance) was 2,103.2 billion yuan, an increase of 0.9 percent over the previous year, accounting for about 2.1 percent of GDP.
N.B. The dependency ratio of the elderly population refers to the number of senior citizens for every 100 working-age citizens.
This piece was kindly translated by Fang Jie, a CDB volunteer.