Silver hair industry about to boom

Updated: 2014-09-25 07:22

By ZHENG JINRAN(China Daily)

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The domestic market for providing essential services and products for the aging population is estimated to be worth 4 trillion yuan ($651 billion) in 2014, or 8 percent of GDP, but it will climb to 33 percent of GDP in 2050, according to the China Report on the Development of the Silver Hair Industry released on Tuesday.

China will become the largest market for businesses serving senior citizens by 2050, when its aging population will account for about one-fourth of the global total and its consumption is expected to reach 106 trillion yuan.

There should be more measures to encourage the growing retirement population to spend and make sufficient preparations for later life, said Wu Yushao, deputy director of the China National Committee on Aging.

"The silver hair industry has started the rapid booming phase, making it a new promising industry in China," said Wu.

The report also explained the booming silver hair industry, which contains four major categories-financing, appliances, services and real estate-targets the aging population instead of young people.

"The major reason for the boom is based on the growing number of aging people," said Wu, also a major author for the national report.

The over-60s accounted for 14.9 percent of the population, or 202 million, in 2013. It will increase rapidly to reach 480 million in 2050, the report said.

"Besides, the optimizing economic structure and official preferential policies have fueled the brisk development of companies in the silver hair industry," Wu said.

Among the four major categories, the companies providing the financing services and products for senior residents will be the largest benefactors of the boom.

"But there has been a huge gap in the financing industry for senior residents between China and the developed countries," said Dang Junwu, deputy head of the Chinese Research Center on Aging.

In the United States, around 6.21 million people work in the financing industry, of which 60 percent serve retirement customers. While China has fewer finance workers, 5.27 million, quite a few financing companies have launched special services for the aging population, Dang said.

Though China will grow into the largest silver hair industry market by 2050, several obstacles will hinder a smooth development, said the report. The major ones include the imbalanced supply with focus on services and ignoring the products for seniors; and lack of systematic development plan for the whole industry.

"We need more encouraging policies to attract the seniors to spend their money and also assure them of their security in the rest of their life," Wu said.

The basic protection is the improved elderly welfare system, including the pension and necessary subsidies, he said.

He added that there should be a special kind of insurance aimed at helping seniors who lose the capacity to take care of themselves.