Financial Health and the Elderly: Lessons from China
China is one of the most rapidly ageing countries in the world. As of 2010, approximately 12.4% percent of the country’s population was aged 60 or above. That percentage is projected to reach 28 percent by 2040 (WHO, 2015). And while it took France 115 years, Sweden 85 years and the United States 69 years for the percentage of their population aged 60 and over to double from 7 percent to 14 percent, China needed only 34 years (United Nations, 2015).
While increasing longevity is to be celebrated as an achievement, governments and societies are less prepared for the challenges associated with ageing. In rural areas of China, where health and care infrastructure are limited, the population is ageing more quickly than in urban areas and many elderly communities are at risk of exclusion. Steady rural-to-urban migration among younger Chinese means that traditional care arrangements, such as children caring for parents, are no longer practical. Older Chinese face financial challenges as they stretch their life savings to meet expenses when their income declines or ends, cope with health care expenses and keep pace with China’s digital revolution.
This report explores the financial lives of older people in China and summarizes key findings from secondary research and UNCDF’s primary research in Yangzhou and Guangdong Province. The financial sector, including financial institutions, insurance companies, fintech companies, policymakers and regulators, could benefit from the report’s insights and apply them to the design and delivery of interventions that improve the financial health of China’s elderly.