A team of social scientists from China’s Peking University conducted a survey related to older people. The results were published in the Lancet Public Health on November 21.

According to the survey, the number of older adults in China who need care has surpassed 45 million and is expected to reach 60 million by 2030. China’s aging trend differs from other nations due to its large scale, profound degree, and rapid onset.

The survey was conducted across 28 provinces in China from 2011 to 2020. Nearly 47,000 respondents aged 60 or over participated in the study.

The three levels of need for care are classified based on the mobility and ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL).

Dressing, bathing, eating, moving from bed to chair, using the toilet, and continence are the six activities of daily living.

The IADL category includes more complex tasks, such as housework, cooking, shopping, managing money, and taking medications.

Level 1 dependents were those who had difficulty with ADL.

Level 2 dependents had trouble with ADL, cooking, shopping, and taking medications.

Those having difficulty with ADL or IADL were classified as Level 3 dependents.

The findings showed that in 2020, there were 20.6 million Level 1, 36.3 million Level 2, and 45.3 million Level 3 dependents, indicating that over 100 million Chinese elderly require care.

According to the report, by 2030, they estimate that over 14 million more older Chinese people will need care than in 2020.

The report listed five key features of China’s elderly population.

First, it accounts for a large proportion, with 13.5% of the population over 65 in 2020. This figure is expected to amount to 37.6% by 2057.

Second, China is aging more quickly than other nations. For example, only 7% were over 65 in 2001. In other words, it took 21 years for China’s population to become deeply aging, while France was 126 years, Britain was 46 years, and Germany 40 years.

Another feature is related to the empty-nest phenomenon. In 2020, 36.6 million elderly are 80 or over, which is expected to rise to 159 million by 2050. There is an increasing number of elderly living alone as empty-nesters.

Old-age dependency ratio will exceed 50% in 2025 from just below 20% in 2020. Finally, Chinese people age more quickly than they increase in wealth.The strict “zero-COVID” policy likely causes more Chinese women to delay or give up childbearing. As a result, Reuters reported on August 8 that the number of babies born in China has fallen to a record low, aggravating the inherently serious aging trend in China.

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