BEIJING – In an attempt to improve the welfare of China’s rapidly aging population, the government is now paying monthly subsidies to 8 million of the nation’s 19 million people above the age of 80, Li Liguo, the minister of civil affairs, announced on Monday.
The subsidies are in place in 14 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions – up from the six participating when the subsidies were introduced last year, said Li during a conference in Hohhot, the capital of North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
He said the ministry plans to continue to roll out the program during the coming five years.
The country has an aging population and about 13.6 percent of its population – 178 million people – are older than 60.
In Beijing, subsidies are only handed out to people who are older than 90. Those aged between 90 and 99 receive 100 yuan ($15.50) a month, while those over 100 get 200 yuan. The subsidies are paid into people’s bank accounts.
“The subsidies are actually quite small when you consider that the cost of living is so high in cities like Beijing,” said Zhai Zhijia, a social worker from the community service center in Beijing’s Yulinxili community. “But the government’s move makes the old people feel they are being cared for.”
There are five people who are older than 90 in Zhai’s community and she visits each of them every three months to check on their health and living conditions.
Fang Jiake, deputy head of the Tianjin-based Hetong Senior Citizens Welfare Association, said he would like to see the government provide financial support to elderly people based on their health and income, instead of their age.
“It’s more important to offer subsidies to those who have lost the ability to live independently and who are struggling in poverty,” Fang said.
China has also tried to build a more inclusive welfare system for minors and especial its orphans.
An inclusive welfare system for children without parents was introduced in 27 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions at the end of June.
Under that system, each institutionalized orphan receives a monthly allowance of 1,000 yuan while those living outside orphanages will get 600 yuan.
A national database containing information about orphans who are younger than 18 was established in March.
The nation is thought to be home to about 712,000 orphaned children.
The database will help facilitate the distribution of monthly government subsidies and monitor welfare services for the vulnerable group.
By the end of June, information about 240,000 orphans had been recorded, including their age, gender, photos and their guardians’ information, Li said at the conference.
Source: China Daily