The nation's aging future in a nutshell

Updated: 2015-01-06 07:43


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Redefining Rudong's work base

By Xin Dingding

Rudong resident Shi Junping, 47, said living in an aging community hasn't really had any effect on her life because her work as a chartered car driver is steady, and her taxi driver husband can also earn a living without too many problems.

Despite its reputation, Rudong has been listed as one of China's top 100 competitive counties for 10 straight years. New giant, white wind turbines have been erected along the county's Yellow Sea coastline to provide a new economic growth point, and a number of villages that were once dominated by the fishing industry will soon be relocated to make way for oil projects the county government is attempting to introduce.

Lacking obvious labor advantages, the local government is attempting to use the county's "fame" as an aging county to develop a new industrial base. "When applying to be listed as a 'longevity town', the county government made it clear that aging should not be regarded as a burden, but should be used to develop an industry," Gao Jian, a county civil affairs' official, said.

Meanwhile, because of the county's close proximity to Shanghai, one of China's most rapidly aging cities, the local government is also planning to encourage senior citizens from the municipality to move to Rudong.

"There's a perfect atmosphere for seniors to lead a comfortable life, which other places lack," according to a report on rdxmt, a local online news portal, praising the county's advantages.

Research commissioned to discover the factors behind the long lives of Rudong's residents discovered three main reasons: good weather; abundant seafood; and an ingrained work ethic that has kept the locals fit and healthy.

"These advantages - plus the favorable environment and abundant land for housing - will help to develop an industry to serve the elderly. If all goes well, the industry will also boost tourism, the service industry, and the development of real estate," Gao said.

The county encouraged private investment to establish a number of subsidized nursing homes, and has also invested millions of yuan in expanding and improving government-run nursing homes for elderly people who lack an income or family.

The need for nursing homes in Rudong is not as pressing as in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, where people are lining up for a bed, according to Gao, but that's partly because only a small number of people can afford to live in a nursing home. It costs 3,000 yuan ($490) per month to live in a well-equipped home, but the average monthly disposable income in Rudong is 1,502 yuan, according to official statistics released earlier this month.

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