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China - Increase In Proportion And Number Of Elderly

aging population percent united twenty

The proportion of elderly (defined as those aged sixty-five and above in this article) of the Chinese population was 5.6 percent in 1990 and 7.0 percent in 2000. However, this proportion will climb quickly to 15.7 percent in 2030 and 22.6 percent in 2050, under medium fertility and medium mortality assumptions (United Nations, 1999, vols. 1 and 2). Note that the medium fertility assumes that the Chinese fertility level will be about 1.9 children per woman in the first half of the twenty-first century, and the medium mortality assumes that life expectancy at birth in China will increase from 71 years in 2000 to 78.7 years in 2050. Under such assumptions, the average annual rate of increase in the proportion of the An elderly man on Beijing, China, reads a newspaper story detailing China's military build-up due to supposed increased tensions with neighboring Taiwan in 2000. (AP/WideWorld) China has the largest elderly population in the world, as one out of every ten people was aged sixty or older in 2000. Several elderly men practice Wushu martial arts near the Forbidden City on September 4, 2000. (AP photo by Chien-min Chung.) elderly population between 2000 and 2050 will be 2.4 percent, while the average annual growth rate of the total population of China during the same period will be only 0.3 percent. In 2000, China's population consists of 21.1 percent of the total world population, and the Chinese elderly population is about 20.8 percent of all elderly living in the world. By 2050, China is projected to have 16.6 percent of the total world population, but will have 22.9 percent of the world's elderly (United Nations, 1999, vol. 2).

In Western societies, the aging transition has been spread over a century or more. In China, however, this change will take place within a few decades and will reach a level of population aging similar to that of most developed countries by the middle of the twenty-first century. It will take about twenty years for the elderly population to increase from 10 percent to 20 percent in China (2017–2037), compared with twenty-three years in Japan (1984–2007), sixty-one years in Germany (1951–2012), sixty-four years in Sweden (1947–2011), and fifty-seven years in the United States (1971–2028) (United Nations, 1999, vol. 2). By the middle of the twenty-first century, the proportion of elderly persons in China will be higher than that in the United States by 0.9 percentage points, and the average annual increase between 1990 and 2050 in China will be 2.6 times as high as that in the United States.

The very large size of the elderly population is another unique feature of population aging in China. In 1990 there were sixty-seven million, and in 2000, eighty-eight million, elderly persons aged sixty-five and over. Under the medium mortality assumption, there will be 235 million elders in China in 2030 and 334 million in 2050. China's elderly population will be fairly close to the total population size of the United States, and 4.4 times as large as the U.S. elderly population, by the middle of the twenty-first century. In 2050 China's elderly population will outnumber India's by 103 million, whereas the total Chinese population will be smaller than that of India by 51 million (United Nations, 1999, vol. 2).

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