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Guideline promotes rural elderly care

Solutions offered as China grapples with rapidly aging population, a notable concern in countryside

By Wang Qingyun | China Daily | Updated: 2024-07-10 09:07
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China has issued its first national-level guideline to specifically address the need for elderly care in rural areas as the country strives to cope with its rapidly aging population.

The guideline, issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and 21 other central and national departments and released on the ministry's website on June 13, put forward a series of measures to bolster care for older adults living in the countryside who are believed to be more vulnerable than their urban peers.

It called for joint participation from the government, villages, nonprofit organizations, companies and financial institutions to support the cause of rural elderly care.

As one of the world's fastest aging countries, China is dealing with a more pressing situation in its rural areas than in cities, a ministry official said.

According to the seventh national population census conducted in 2020, more than 120 million people age 60 and older live in the countryside, accounting for 23.81 percent of the nation's rural population. The figure is about 8 percentage points higher than the proportion of people age 60 and older in urban areas.

Many villages primarily consist of older adults. This is because younger people leave to live and find work elsewhere, while retired migrant workers return to their rural hometowns as they get older.

Compared to their urban peers, older rural residents have lower incomes and therefore are less capable of affording elderly care, the official said.

The Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which has conducted research in the rural areas of Jinjiang, Fujian province, noted that people who live alone make up a large proportion of the older rural population.

In addition, the burden of taking care of elderly, disabled spouses in rural areas, as well as the inability to afford such care at nursing facilities, have become "prominent issues", the institute said in a report published by China Society News.

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