It is predicted that China’s elderly population will exceed 300 million during the ‘14th Five Year Plan’ period and enter a moderate aging population period,” a representative from the Ministry of Civil Affairs told a press conference in October 2020.
China’s low birth rate and aging problem have become increasingly prominent. Chinese economists predict that due to the low birth rate, China may experience a population decline in the next five years.
In order to restrain the population growth rate, China began to implement one-child policy in 1979. But since January 2016, the restrictions have been gradually eased, allowing couples to have two or more children. In 2016, the number of births reached 17.86 million, an increase of 1.31 million over the previous year. But the number kept decreasing in the following three years. Higher child rearing costs makes couples reluctant to have a second child. The fertility rate dropped to 1.65 in 2013. In spite of the eased childbearing policy, the fertility rate hasn’t increased significantly since, finally resulting in the aging of the population.
However, the latest survey shows an interesting phenomenon: there is one centenarian in every 1,500 elderly Chinese. According to a report by Fitch Solutions, China’s aging population and their usage of advanced medical technology will lead to sustained growth in China’s medical and health markets.
In 2019, health care expenditure reached $877.01 billion, and the per capita expenditure was $611.6. It is estimated that in 2020, this expenditure will increase by 12.5% over 2019. They also predict that health care expenditure will reach $2.7 trillion by 2029.
The increasingly higher proportion of elder people in health care services will create significant opportunities for pharmaceutical and medical healthcare companies to expand their business and increase income, especially as the government tries to expand the public’s access to health care services. This, in turn, will enhance the attractiveness of China’s healthcare market, according to Fitch Solutions’ data. As a result, more and more medical institutions begin to cooperate with Internet companies to provide online diagnostic services and follow-up consultations in order to meet the rapidly growing demand for medical care and daily health care, and to compensate for the public’s difficult access to expensive public health services resulted from an aging population.
The aging population will pose a major obstacle to China’s economic growth mainly in two aspects: shortage of labor force and increase of pension expenditure. The relevant departments have begun to pay attention to this issue. In the health and spa industry, another topic, apart from the Gen Z, is now hotly discussed: senior citizens’ health management and its economic benefits.