China’s ageing population is becoming a crisis

Lan Pan / BBC
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Ask 72-year-old farmer Huanchun Cao about his pension and he reacts with a throaty cackle.

He sucks on his home-rolled cigarette, narrows his brow and tilts his head – as if the very question is absurd. “No, no, we don’t have a pension,” he says looking at his wife of more than 45 years.

Mr Cao belongs to a generation that witnessed the birth of Communist China. Like his country, he has become old before he has become rich. Like many rural and migrant workers, he has no choice but to keep working and to keep earning, as he’s fallen through a weak social safety net.

A slowing economy, shrinking government benefits and a decades-long one-child policy have created a creeping demographic crisis in in Xi Jinping’s China.

The pension pot is running dry and the country is running out of time to build enough of a fund to care for the growing number of elderly.

Over the next decade, about 300 million people, who are currently aged 50 to 60, are set to leave the Chinese workforce. This is the country’s largest age group, nearly equivalent to the size of the US population.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!