More than 778,000 Kunming residents are aged 60 or older – good news for sellers of kites and automatic majiang tables – but a growing concern for the city government, which is facing serious demographic challenges in the coming years.
Results from last year's census show that 12.1 percent of Kunming's population is at least 60 years old – a significant increase over the 9.8 percent total recorded during the previous census in 2000.
A population is generally considered to be "aging" when 10 percent of its population is over the age of 60.
Kunming's senior citizen ratio is lower than China's national average but is the highest of Yunnan's cities. Rising living standards and a general improvement in health care in the city have enabled the city's residents to live longer than ever – last year's census recorded 109 residents aged 100 or older.
In general, the family has served as the safety net for Kunming – and China's – senior citizens. But there is an 800-pound-gorilla in the room: China's one-child policy, which was enacted in 1978.
Many of Kunming's older residents have multiple sons and daughters, who often share the responsibilities of caring for their parents. In the coming five to 10 years the parents of people born at the beginning of the one-child policy era will enter their sixties, but for the first time in the history of the Chinese family, this generation will only have one child to provide for them.
China's pension fund grew tenfold between 2000 and 2010, but it is still too early to say if it will be ready for the ramifications of the one-child policy.
If the pension system is not capable of dealing with the upcoming population strains, the burden for Chinese couples born after 1978 will be daunting to say the least: two people will have to care for up to four parents while working in an increasingly competitive job market and also potentially raising a child.© Copyright 2005-2021 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.