Shenzhen’s reputation as a place of youthful vigor and vitality is fading fast. By 2027, the city will have 650,000 registered residents over the age of 60, accounting for 10% of the registered population, reports Southern Metropolis Daily.
In Hong Kong, by comparison, the percentage of elderly climbed from 12% to 16% over the past decade. Yet more than the numbers, what is worrying Shenzhen is that more than half of these elderly are either dependent on the state for care, or soon will be, as they live in “empty nests”, i.e., no children to care for them. Hong Kong, by comparison, has less than 10% of its elderly in managed institutional care.
Mostly this rise in the numbers of elderly will be due to more realistic accounting and changes in the household registration system. Shenzhen currently has 320,000 registered elderly households, and as many as 730,400 “regular residents” over 60, i.e., those not on a hukou. Moreover, the city is already serving an estimated 1.14 million elderly people out of its total population of more than 12 million.
Needless to say, the city government is building a “smart” social welfare system to cater to this demographic. And inevitably, this will create opportunities for private-sector investors, including foreigners. As we reported back in late May, the entire province is preparing bureaucratic changesthat will make it easier for companies to enter the market for elderly care.
Currently, Shenzhen has 45 old-age care institutions, 89 day care centers, and 200 meal service points. The government is also offering residential care, subsidies and healthcare services for elderly citizens. But as the article points out, the city faces challenges in lack of quality of these services, which, in China’s richest city, seem destined to be replaced by market practitioners.
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