Sources

China Tops 100 Million Elderly – Crunching The Numbers Of A Demographic Time Bomb

A new report shows China sliding faster and faster into an "aging society," which creates both economic and social pressures on the world's most populous country.

Shopping mall in Shanghai
In Beijing, an elderly man practices calligraphy with water (skinnylawyer)
Tahini
Michael Frank

BEIJING – Proof is multiplying that China is aging at an alarming pace. If measured by international standards, China has been an aging society since 1999, announced Li Jianguo, vice-chairman of China's National People's Congress. Li Jianguo's remarks, as reported by Xinhua Net, were made during the presentation of the NPC Standing Committee's law enforcement report on the Elderly Protection Act. According to this report, in November 2010, China had 178 million people over 60 years old, of which 119 million are over 65. That accounts for, respectively, 13.26% and 8.87% of the total population, and makes China the only country on the earth with more than 100 million elderly people.

But more worrying is how the statistics are set to unfold in the future: China's elderly demographic will surpass 200 million in just three years, and top 300 million by 2025. By 2042, more than 30% of China's total population will be over 60.

These numbers, says Yuan Xin, professor at the Institute of Population and Development at Nankai University, mean that China is "running headlong" into an aging society. Yet, as a particularly populous country, China is quite distinct from other societies. The report characterizes it as "an aging society with Chinese characteristics." That means, beyond the elderly group's large piece of the demographic pie, it is also a change that is happening extremely fast. Moreover, many of China's old people live alone, and a large number of disabled elderly live in hardship.

Over the past decade, the number of people over 80 years old has almost doubled to more than 20 million. As young people leave home to work in other cities, the number of elderly people living on their own has grown to 50%. Among them, 33 million of the elderly are disabled or partly disabled.

LI Jianguo said China has established a basic social pension system. There are 236 million people who participate in the old-age insurance scheme for urban enterprise workers. Currently, there are also 58 million retirees who receive state pensions (a mere 4.5% of the population), and the new rural social pension scheme will cover 60 % of all counties by the end of this year.

In 2010, for every five working-age people, there was one old person being supported. According to the new estimates, that ratio will drop to three working -age people for each elderly person by 2020.

An "old" adage

Traditionally, Chinese people used to say "Raise children in preparation of one's old age," as families were counted on to care for senior citizens. But when both the husband and wife each come from a single-child family, bearing the responsibility of four elderly parents, whether economically or physically, will become unbearably heavy.

Cai Fang, Director of the Institute of Population and Labor Economics of China's Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that when social changes break the foundations on which traditional values were based, the pension models are bound to change accordingly.

Yet, though plenty of Chinese are accepting the idea of a public pension, in reality, there's more demand than supply in social care services. According to the report, there are old-age beds for only 1.8% of the population in China, in comparison with 5 to 7% in a developed country, and 2 to 3% in a developing country.

The Chinese authorities have proposed to provide up to 30 old-age beds per thousand elderly in the next five years, an increase of 3.4 million beds, an absolutely colossal task.

Experts believe that the main reason for such slow development of nursing homes in China is due to the huge long-term investment necessary, as well as the low return rate on investment. It's a sector that does not attract private capital.

The NPC's Standing Committee recommended an acceleration of a public old-age nursing system, while the government should also help push the private sector into building these services.

Although China enacted the Elderly Protection Act in 1996, the rate of the demographic changes has outpaced proposed reforms. It is imperative to reform this law in order to highlight the responsibility of the government in finding the required investment and in promoting the construction of an old people care system.

Read the original article in Chinese

Photo- skinnylawyer

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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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