China / Society

Childless elderly to receive government help

By He Dan (China Daily) Updated: 2012-09-21 07:24

Senior citizens who have lost their only child are expected to be included in the State care system, a senior civil affairs official said on Thursday.

Dou Yupei, vice-minister of civil affairs, said the issue of elderly citizens who have lost their only child is new for the country, surfacing only since the end of 1970s when China implemented family planning policies to control its population.

Dou said the government should care for older people, and proposed relevant departments learn from current policies supporting elderly people who are not able to work, have no source of income and have no one to support them.

He made the remarks at a news conference held at the State Council's Information Office on Thursday.

Demographers estimate there are 120 million households with only one child on the mainland.

Zhai Zhenwu, a leading demographer from the School of Sociology and Population Studies at Beijing-based Renmin University of China, predicted that about 2 million parents who have abided by the policy will end up childless by the year 2020.

Li Minglan, a mother in Wuhan, Hubei province, whose only son died from a brain hemorrhage in 1999, said Dou's remarks are "good news" for people like her.

However, she urged the government to speed up legislation for the group.

"We are getting older, so one day one spouse will die and leave the other alone in this world," she said. "Without a legal guardian, the remaining spouse faces enormous difficulties in later life, because hospitals refuse to carry out surgery on people who cannot find a legal guardian to sign the consent, and nursing homes will always turn away applicants who don't have a legal guardian."

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