CAIXINMEDIA

China Demographics: Boost Birth Rates, Not Retirement Age

As it faces an aging population, China has announced plans to raise its retirement age. But the better solution, and a clearly more urgent issue, is to encourage couples to have more children.

In Tianjin, China
In Tianjin, China
Liang Jianzhang and Huang Wenzheng

BEIJING — An aging demographic usually implies a low birth rate and people living longer. The average life expectancy in China is around the global average, but the proportion of its elderly compared to its youth makes it perhaps the world's most aged country. Even worse is that it hasn't even peaked. While the proportion of over-60-year-olds is 15.5% today, it will soar to 40% in the next two decades.

Ultimately, China's problem has much more to do with low birth rates than having too many elderly people. Coupled with increased life expectancy, China is doomed to face a grim situation unless it further loosens its one-child policy and actively encourages families to have more children.

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Society

Face In The Mirror: Dutch Hairdressers Trained To Recognize Domestic Violence

Early detection and accessible help are essential in the fight against domestic violence. Hairdressers in the Dutch province of North Brabant are now being trained to identify when their customers are facing abuse at home.

Hair Salon Rob Peetoom in Rotterdam

Daphne van Paassen

TILBURG — The three hairdressers in the bare training room of the hairdressing company John Beerens Hair Studio are absolutely sure: they have never seen signs of domestic violence among their customers in this city in the Netherlands. "Or is that naïve?"

When, a moment later, statistics appear on the screen — one in 20 adults deals with domestic violence, as well as one or two children per class — they realize: this happens so often, they must have victims in their chairs.

All three have been in the business for years and have a loyal clientele. Sometimes they have customers crying in the chair because of a divorce. According to Irma Geraerts, 45, who has her own salon in Reusel, a village in the North Brabant region, they're part-time psychologists. "A therapist whose hair I cut explained to me that we have an advantage because we touch people. We are literally close. The fact that we stand behind people and make eye contact via the mirror also helps."

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