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China: Elderly's Quality of Life to Improve

 

By: Tang Min
 China Daily, June 28, 2002

 

 

  A senior civil affairs official yesterday said that more efforts will be
taken to improve the quality of life the country's 130 million elderly
citizens, a figure greater than that for any other country in the world. A
priority of the Ministry of Civil Affairs is to reform and improve the
social security system in order to ensure all retired people receive their
pensions on time, said Minister Doji Cering. In addition, special allowances
will be given to people of advanced age, normally those over 80, the
minister said. Only people over 100 years of age get an allowance from local
civil affair authorities at present. It varies from region to region, the
highest being over 100 yuan (US$12.10) and the lowest less than 20 yuan
(US$2.40) per month.

Doji Cering gave a clear-cut definition of what constitutes "a quality life
for the elderly." He said it should include material well-being and cultural
fulfillment, as well as good health and living conditions. Systematic work
will be needed to achieve this. "China has done much to improve the life of
its elderly people, which has been widely recognized by elderly people
themselves," the minister told a national conference in Beijing. "But with
the country's steady economic growth, China has greater capacity to provide
a better life for its senior citizens," the minister said.

A just completed national spot survey indicates that around 60 per cent of
the country's aged population feel their life has "improved, with enhanced
economic security," since the end of 1980s, when the country adopted its
reform and opening-up policies. "The country's employment situation should
not be allowed to affect support for the elderly," said the minister. The
country's deep-going economic reform has been squeezing out underdog
enterprises, leaving many retired people without their pensions, because the
country's old pension system hinged on enterprises, not the government or
society, providing support for retired staff.

A national survey indicates that over 60 per cent of the country's elderly
people are not included in any social security scheme, the ministry
revealed. However, the survey found more than half of the elderly people
questioned felt secure about their health. And 62.3 per cent of them enjoy
welfare medical services provided by the government, with only 10 per cent
complaining about difficulty in visiting a doctor. 


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