By Cal Widdall
According to new demographic statistics released yesterday, 3.48 million of Shanghai’s 14.2 million permanent residents are over the age of 60. At 24.5% of the city’s population, Shanghai’s elderly community is significantly larger than the 13.7% national average, causing concern for the future.
The data, jointly released by the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, the Shanghai Bureau of Statistics and the Shanghai Municipal Committee on Aging, also showed that Shanghai’s centenarian population has tripled in the past ten years. Whilst 306 residents were over the age of 100 in 2001, the figure stood at 1,156 at the end of 2011. Unsurprisingly in a city where a man must carry his partners handbag if he wishes to survive, 907 of these centenarians are women, and only 249 are men.
The nation’s one-child policy, enforced since 1978, coupled with increasing life expectancy has led to a disproportionate amount of elderly people across China and especially Shanghai. This is more true now than ever, as old age is reached by the millions of children born during the baby boom of the early 1950’s.
Officials from the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said the phenomenon won’t have an immediate effect on the city because these ‘young seniors’, born during the baby boom, are currently relatively healthy and active. But in a decade or so, as they grow older, problems will arise.
Besides the peripheral economic issues of a smaller workforce and a larger dependent population, metro transfer times will be trebled by unprecedented numbers of old people standing on the left of the escalator and crossing any spacious outdoor area will become a perilous quest through flailing arms and dancing feet.