China saw an increase of its elderly population by half a percentage point during the last year, the largest increase rate ever. Aging problems have rapidly arisen amid China's comparatively poor social and economic conditions.
An aging population is China's greatest challenge. The country now has 169 million people over age 60, comprising 12.5 percent of the country's total population. The number is predicted to reach 31 percent by 2050, which means every one in three Chinese will be more than 60 years old.
The number of people in their 80s or older approached 19 million in 2009, and will increase by 1 million annually.
With the growing number of retired workers, China's pension system also faces a shortage of funds.
According to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China's pension demands have soared to about 1.3 trillion yuan (about $197 billion), almost double the number in 2004. Huge demand and a small amount of supply are the biggest challenges lying ahead.
Experts say China's aging trend is irreversible, what the Government can do is improve social infrastructure and welfare. They also suggest the government use multiple channels to raise pension funds, to make up for the shortages.
According to the Office of the China National Committee on Aging, 320 counties from 31 provincial regions have already started to exercise new models of social pension insurance.
Fifteen million elderly people in rural areas have received a basic old-age pension from central finance.
(CNTV.cn February 22, 2011)