Health services to be boosted as people in China retire later: analysts
Health services to be boosted as people retire later
Published: May 31, 2021 09:16 PM
A nurse takes routine vital signs monitoring for a resident at Merrill Gardens' senior living community in Guilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in 2019 summer. Photo: Courtesy of Merrill Gardens

A nurse takes routine vital signs monitoring for a resident at Merrill Gardens' senior living community in Guilin, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in 2019 summer. Photo: Courtesy of Merrill Gardens

Chinese top leadership's announcement on Monday to further relax the country's family planning policy and allow couples to have three children is expected to boost many industries, including the already booming elder-care industry, which is expected to witness explosive growth in the coming years, experts and industry players told the Global Times.

China will allow couples to have three children, which will be conducive to improving the population structure, implementing the national strategy to actively respond to the aging of the population, and maintaining China's human resource advantages, according to a meeting presided over by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The meeting also announced several other measures, including postponing the retirement age, improving the multi-level pension security system, exploring the establishment of a long-term care insurance framework, and accelerating the construction of coordinated home community institutions, along with a combination of medical care and healthcare.

Shares related to child care and elder care surged on Monday following the announcement.

Shares of Goldlok, a Guangdong-based toy company, rose by 10.11 percent, while infant food company Zhejiang Beingmate Technology Industry&Trade Co rose by 8.09 percent. In the elder-care segment, shares of Yihua Enterprise (Group) rose by 10.02 percent.

The meeting also called for efforts to improve child care, maternity leave and birth insurance.

China's aging population has gained much attention at home and abroad, as it presents both challenges and opportunities for the country. Both domestic and foreign businesses are keen to seize the growth opportunities in China's booming "silver economy," industry representatives said.

Qin Jing, head of the investment and research department at Hejun Consulting's healthcare division, told the Global Times on Monday that postponing retirement will lead to a decline in certain market demand for the elderly, especially those having pensions and big spending power. 

"This will affect the development of industries such as specialized housing for the elderly, as well as tourism and entertainment services that target them," Qin noted. 

"However, at the same time, due to the increase in the retirement age, older people will quickly enter the stage of needing care and nursing after retirement, which will bring opportunities to the elder-care market, and medical institutions for elder care will embrace great opportunities," Qin said.

Commercial insurance for the elderly and rehabilitation nursing will also reap benefits from the lucrative Chinese elder-care market, she added.

A report by East Asia Qianhai Securities released on Monday forecast that by 2024, the growth size of China's elder-care industry will exceed 10 trillion yuan ($1.57 trillion), with an average annual growth rate of about 20 percent. 

The upward trend of the "silver economy" will also trigger the rapid development of the pharmaceutical and biological industries, the report said. Industry chains, from medical devices to drugs, will focus on the elderly. Also, it will stimulate the rise of new industries such as family doctors, chronic disease management, healthcare medicine, telemedicine and wearable devices.

Buurtzorg, a leading European community-based home nursing provider from the Netherlands, sees great opportunities in China's elder-care industry.

"We consider China's 90-7-3 approach to aged care as an excellent approach. Yet, implementation so far is focused mostly on the '3 percent' - building nursing homes, which is the most expensive solution. 

"China will need a much stronger focus on care at home (90 percent) and in communities (7 percent)," Stephan Dyckerhoff, president of Buurtzorg Asia and Buurtzorg China, told the Global Times.

Cui Dongshu, secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, told the Global Times on Monday that China's new population policy will make the vehicle market more diversified. At present, middle-aged people account for the bulk of auto consumption, but that will gradually shift to the elderly.

"Although the three-child policy will spark growth in seven-seat cars, the effect is still small. Our auto market is bound to be geared toward middle-aged and elderly people. At the same time, growth of the old-age scooter and micro-electric car market will also be driven," Cui said.

According to data from the seventh national census released in early May, people aged 60 or above account for 18.7 percent of the total population, 5.44 percentage points higher than in 2010, when the previous census was taken. 

The population on the Chinese mainland aged 60 or above has reached 264.02 million, including 190.64 million aged 65 or above, or 13.5 percent of the total population.