Where is Chinese older adults` final home?
Whereis Chinese older adults’ final home?
Thereare two indicators that China is becoming an aging society: thefalling rate of fertility and the increase in the life expectancy.There are many evidences and studies that China’s average age wouldincrease for the future years to come. Most of their scholar suggeststhat population slowdown would result in less societal change thanpopulation explosion. However, the potential effects of continuedreduction of fertility and aging population should not be neglected.The effects should be a concern in a developed country like China.(Coale 1986)
Itis projected that China will be the most aged country by the time of2030. This will be the effect of lower mortality rates due to thebetter quality of life and also the effect of the one policy. Infurther predictions, China’s older population will increase in 2050to 330 million or 25 percent of the whole population of China. Thiswill be almost 10 times the elderly population in America at the sametime. The social culture of Chinese Family is to have aresponsibility in taking care of their parents with its filialideology as underprop especially in the rural areas. In this case,older adults usually live in their male child till the end of life.The result of this social issue is that the Chinese families will bemore relying on male child. Some of this social problem will alsoincrease by 2050. (Zhang, 2001)
Urbanizationand more people shifting from rural agricultural societies to urbanareas due to the rapid pace of economic development are alsoaccompanied by changes in the social and family structures. Some ofthe regions in the world such as China, young adults migrate tocities for more job opportunities causing older adults being leftbehind without any family members living nearby. This was the caseand the one of the effects of ‘one child policy’ of China and isfacing the rapid population aging. (Bond,John, and Lynne Corner, 2004)
China’s‘one child per couple policy’ was established in 1979. Many ofthe studies have documented that this policy have an effect on theaging of China’s population and a depressing effects in thefertility rates. One of the effects of the increased in theproportion of elderly in China is the social and economiccomplications. The younger adults are having difficult times incaring for the much younger generation and to add is the oldergenerations. Lessening the effects requires many studies. There arelots of possibilities may occur in the urban areas since economiclimitations is not that much of a problem. The challenge on china isthe adult care in rural areas which lack options on adult care.(Bond,John, and Lynne Corner, 2004)
Thepopulation aging problem of china requires more and better retirementliving options. The number of elderly people in China annually cannotpossibly all live with their relatives, not with the one childpolicy. There are social concerns with the caring for elderlycreating positive and negative perceptions about the future retirees.The necessity and acceptance of the Chinese community increased thedemand for senior housing in China. Economic efficiency also demandsa change to the current geriatric care model. Rehabilitation care andlong term nursing is more effective and efficient providinghealthcare facilities rather than in hospitals. Options are becomingavailable in a shift that is opening up opportunities for businessesthat can deliver the right combination of real estate, healthcare andhospitality tailored for the needs of the Chinese pensioner. Increating the idea of adult housing, China is taking it in theEconomic level. (Bond,John, and Lynne Corner, 2004)
TheUnited states share the least number of older people than many of thedeveloped countries in the world. However, projected quantities ofolder people will be expected to double in United States. In 1970s,only 10 percent of the population was in the age 65 and older whileone-third of the population belongs to the children. At modern times,the children in United States are only 25 percent of the wholepopulation and the share of the elderly has risen to 13 percent. Therise will also be observed up to the year 2050 which fully one-fifthof the United States population will be ages 65 and older. Most ofthe increase will come from the year 2030 when the last of the largebaby-boom cohorts reaches age 65. Although this was the case, theincrease is generally greater from other developed countries likeChina and yet, United States have more efficient Elderly care (LindaJacobsen, Mary Kent, Marlene Lee, and Mark Mather, 2011).
Thefocus of this paper is to discuss the effects of Aging population ofChina to social and economic terms. The paper will also present aprobable solution that is based on the policies and development ofthe United States when it comes to adult care. It also aims tocompare the adult care of both of the developed countries of UnitedStates and China.
Review on the China’s Population History
Thepopulation of China reached its 1.3 billion mark in 2000 which has anannual growth rate of 1.1 percent, as the National Bureau ofStatistics of China Suggest (NBSC, 2001). In 1950, the lifeexpectancy is only about 41 years, which is greatly improved to 71years after almost 50 years. And this pattern will be continued inthe future decades and there will be at least 400 million Chinese atleast 65 years old. This quantity is more than the combinedpopulation of most of the developed country such as France, Germany,Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom (Zhang, 2001).
In1949, China’s population was only about 540 million and relativeyoung. It is also the time when the communism came to China and theirleaders that time didn’t understand the importance of populationcontrol on social and economic status of China. The populationdoubled for the next 40 years since Mao Tse-tung believed that as asocialist country, more people means more additional numbers for thefight against capitalism. (Zhang, 2001). Then he realized thatpopulation control must be a national concern in the 1970s. He theninitiated the wanxi shaoprogram to promote later marriages, longer birth intervals and fewerchildren. However, the program doesn’t stop the population increaseand this was the time the one child policy of China was developed in1979. One of the effects of this policy was already observed inmodern times. China’s fertility rate decrease greatly from 7.5 in1963 to 1.7 in 2003 (PRB, 2004)
FilialPiety and Family Traditions in China
Thefamily tradition of filial piety has been in over 2000 years inChinese culture. They believed in the Confusian philosophy and becamethe most important Chinese social structure. Confucius teaches themthat the greatest crime for a man is not to practice filial piety. (Chai and Chai, 1965)
Chinesetradition also bonded around relatives who assist them in theireconomic needs and the tradition implies that elderly parents shouldlive with their eldest son. Blood relations have been an importantpart of creating a social structure in Chinese community. However in1950, the communism rise and most of the Confusian Philosophy wasgeneralized as feudal nonsense although the tradition of the male sonfor elderly care remained. The Chinese government indirectly uses the“one child policy” in increase the filial piety to have asolution for aging problem such as implementing a law that punishesanyone for refusing to support an older adult in a family. They alsocontinue to support care for children while continuing to stress theneed for adult children to support elderly parents (Palmer 1995Huang 2003).
Social and Economic effects of Aging Population and the “One child Policy”
Thisrapid transition from a relatively young to a relatively oldpopulation is unpredicted when the one child policy is established,especially on the scale witnessed in China today. Furthermore, therepercussions of this aging need to be addressed as they will haveprofound impacts on many facets of Chinese life in terms of socialand economic situation of China. (Zhang, 2001)
Populationproblem was very clear to Chinese People and the idea of theGovernment “fewer but higher quality births” has been a culturalvalue for every people in China. (Wang 1999). Urban residents werethe first to accept the “one child policy” since economy is not aproblem living in the cities. However, the Chinese people living inrural areas didn’t think the importance of the “one child policy”at first, although they realized it in the later years. Almost 90percent of the rural population is either illiterate or semi–literate, so most of them doesn’t realized the economic andsocial effects of the “one child policy”. China remains apredominantly rural nation which consists of about 59 percent of thepopulation and will be the most significantly affected by the “onechild policy” since their family members remain the primary sourceof economic support for elderly people. (Greenhalgh and Bongaarts,1987).
Chinahas also experiencing a significant economic transformation since therecent changes in the population policy or the “one child policy”.Generally, China has a planned economy, but is it shifting to amarket economy. There has been an inequality since the transitionbegan since the effect of “one child policy” is more drastic inthe rural areas. Both urban and rural areas of China experiencedunemployment and loss their traditional benefits due to the policy.However, the urban areas received many forms of favorable treatmentsuch as subsidized food and housing. (McKay 2000) The rural suffersince their health care system collapsed and collective farms weredismantled. The rural and urban income gap became even more observed.(Hale 2003)
Thefirst “one child policy” only applies to the largest ethnic groupof China which is the Han. It accounts for almost 90 percent of thewhole population of China. Initially, the other 55 smaller ethnicgroups are still permitted to have two or three children for economicpurposes. Another addition to the policy is that rural residents arepermitted to have a second child if their first child id a girl andcan wait an additional four years. The policy is to help families tohave a Male child for helping them in their households. Other Chinesepeople living in urban areas simply do not care about the punishmentsince they can afford to pay the fines assed for “one child policy”violations. (PRB, 2004)
Effect of “one child policy” on the Care for Elderly in China
Theconcern of people living in rural areas affected by the “one childpolicy” is the families without a male child. Traditionally, theeldest son has the responsibility to take care of their elderlyparents. (Greenhalgh and Bongaarts, 1987) Some of the familiesattempted drastic measures to ensure a son like female infanticide.China increased the sex ration of male over female in the year 2000.The global sex ratios at birth are about 105 males to 100 females.However in China, the sex ratio at birth is about 117 males to 100females which is quite a high value (National Bureau of Statistics ofChina 2001). One explanation is the female infanticide that occursmostly in the rural areas (Coale and Banister 1994). The issue seximbalance is about to decrease the quality of care for elderlyparents since Chinese female provide more higher quality of care forolder adults than males. (Sun, 2002).
Fewerfemales in the population of China will result to increase in thedemand for people that provides nursing care for elderly people ofChina. Many of the parents in the rural areas will rely on theirdaughter-in-law to take care for them. Social effect can be observedsince studies revealed that male children have the weaker sense forfamily obligation than women. (Fuligni and Zhang, 2004) Although theimplications of the missing Chinese girls are a long-term prediction,it will certainly affect the quality and quantity of eldercare forChinese elderly.
Issueon who care for the elderly people in China will have been a majorconcern since the implementation of the “one child policy”. There are numerous factors for the concerns of the elderly care inChina. One is the increasing transformation of family ties andresidential patterns in Chinese community. There has been a weakeningof the sense of family obligations. The Chinese community should havea solution to their population problem especially with the care ofolder adults. (Zeng 1991).
Health and Well-Being of Older Adult in United States
Lifeexpectancy in the United States has increased from 68.9 years in 1950to 79.2 years in 2009. The main reason is the reduction in mortalityrate among Americans at age 65 and above. Basically, the increase inlife expectancy is accompanied by reduced morbidity and greaterhappiness when the proper health and support are achieved. This isthe case in the United States that is why. Older Adults achievedgreater happiness than the adults in China. (Hegner, 2007)
Forthe past 30 years, many studies show that the health care of olderadults in the United States has been improving. It can be seen in thedecreased in the mortality rate and the prevention of most of thedisease in old age. Technological advancement has been a major helpfor the health care of elderly people in the United States. (Hegner,2007)
InUnited States, the works and earnings of the labor force support thefunding of most of the entitlement programs that assist the elderlypeople. One example of which is the Social Security System. The majorconcern for the American citizens is how the emerging increase in thequantities of older adult can be supported sufficiently by the laborforce of the United States. The increase in the older adultpopulation is problem for the economic support of the labor force andsome of the politicians suggest more reliance on the blood ties ofeach family. (O’Brien, 1997)
Mostof the older people in the United States are taking cared of thefamily caregivers to provide support and assistance. Labor force inUS is not a bigger problem since their population can be enough tosupport the quantity of labor force needed. They also rely on thecaregivers form the developing countries to work for the elderly inthe United States. Economic stability of the US provides the olderpeople health care and suffices their increase. (Bond,John, and Lynne Corner, 2004)However, changes in family patterns may reduce the availability offamily caregivers. One such change is the increase in divorce sincethe early 1960s. Divorce problem may cause the decrease in thequantity of labor force but can be enough since the education systemin the United States is stable. (O’Brien, 1997)
The“one child policy” of China is the main responsible for theaccelerating aging process that occurs in their population. Theeffects may cause social and economic restructuring but the mainconcern is about the elderly care problem of China. Traditional carefor elderly people is not an option for most Chinese nowadays sincethere a limited option for them to have a male child and there is adecrease in the quantity of females in China, who provides morequality care than males. Most of the child in urban areas believedthat it is impossible for one male child to take care of his forgrandparents. Most parents who are financially abled rely on nursingcare and homes provided by the Chinese Government. However, thissolution that is wide used in United States is not a likeable optionin most of the Chinese People in the rural areas. It is moreeconomically effective to take care of their older parents ratherthan paying the nurses to do it.
Mostof the suggestions by the Chinese researchers are that, Chinesegovernment should adapt the system of adult care that is widely usedin the United States. Urban areas can rely also on the neighborhoodprograms for taking care of the older adults since it is not wellestablished in China. The program of Shanghai model is already ofusage. In this program, families are providing volunteers forproviding care and assistance in their neighborhood committee. Thecost of this type of process is minimal and could be expanded toother urban areas.
However,the process is not suitable for rural areas. With the “one childpolicy”, they will have not enough volunteers for the program andthe neighborhood program will collapse. Although the cost of thisprocess is minimal, the Chinese government can also adapt the SocialSecurity System. In this method, the labor force of China couldprovide the funding of health care and assistance of the olderadults. Nursing homes is also an option although the cost of thismethod is an economic problem. This could also destroy familytraditions and could reconstruct social structures that are the basisof family traditions. Although this was the case, more and moreChinese people are accepting this method. The quality of the healthcare and the assistance will depend on the labor force provided.
Theprovision of elderly health care in the rural areas is becoming a bigproblem. One reason is that filial piety in the rural areas are muchstronger that the ones living in urban areas. Additional governmentassistance would also greatly help the rural elderly cope with therapid socio-economic changes that they have and will continue toexperience.
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