Rural insurance urged for aged people
China need to establish a rural endowment insurance system as soon as possible, as 70 percent of aged people lived in rural areas and a large number of them turn to be "empty nesters", a leading expert said Saturday.
Currently, China has 134 million people aged 60 or above, accounting for 10 percent of the total population; 110 million people aged 65, taking up to 8.5 percent of the total. Seventy percent of the aged people live in rural areas.
Zhang Zaisheng, professor with the public administrative college under the Tianjin University said at the First International Forum on Social Security, held here on Saturday, that in the past, aged people in rural areas were taken care by their children and farmland were their sole income source.
"However, with the growing population, rapid urbanization and the development of non-agricultural industries, the per capita occupation of farmland shrunk sharply. In addition, Chinese farmers only had the right to use farmland, but did not own the farmland. It was impossible for the aged in rural areas earn pension by transferring the ownership of farmland. Therefore, today's the aged in rural areas could not depend on farmland to spend their rest of lives any longer," said Zhang.
In addition, the implementation of the country's family planning policies for more than 20 years has changed the extending families to be small families in rural areas. And rural young generation seemed more eager to work in cities and integrate in the colorful urban life. Therefore, an increasing number of aged people in rural areas turned to be "empty nesters", Zhang added.
A provincial survey on living status of aged people in rural areas, launched by central China's Hubei Province, showed that 27.6 percent of respondent in 170 counties of the province lived lonely, up 11.4 percent from 20 years ago.
The survey also showed that in 2002 every family in rural areasspent 824 yuan (about 100 US dollars) for taking care the aged people, taking up to 8.5 percent of family's average annual income. No doubt, farmer's burden of taking care the aged is becoming heavier, the professor said.
Thanks for the efforts made by governments at all levels, progress has been made in recent years, and 1,870 counties and cities have started to form rural endowment insurance system, which covered 55 million farmers. More than 1,200 counties and cities started to establish the minimum social security system, which covered 44.5 million farmers.
However, Zhang held that government should allocate more money for the establishment of rural endowment insurance system.
Zhang suggested that government should first calculate the basic expenditure for an aged people in rural areas and then partially pay the endowment insurance for them. To be specific, anaged people in rural area could only pay 50 percent of his or her endowment insurance and the government pay the rest.
In Germany and Japan, their governments also burden partly withcitizen's endowment insurance, Zhang said, adding that the Chinese government could learn their experiences.