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Proposal on the Promotion of Family Endowment and Healthy Development
Source:Chinese Women's Research Network | Release Date:2017-3-3-
Title: Proposal on the Promotion of Family Endowment and Healthy Development
Source: Women of China
Release Date: March 3, 2017
Keyword: family endowment, aging policy

Submitted to the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee on behalf of the All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) by political advisor Zhen Yan

Chinese President Xi Jinping made an instruction on the issue of an ageing population in China on May 27, 2016, urging officials to enact a family endowment system, which was regarded as the most important part of the improvement of the ageing policy.

As the most common way to support the aged across China at present, the establishment of a family endowment system played an essential role in promoting families' development and helped families actively deal with ageing issues.

Current Overview and Problems of Family Support for the Aged

1) Homes are the absolute bases for family endowment and the supporting organizations are in serious dearth.

According to a large amount of research and investigation, homes are the best options for the majority of elderly people to spend the rest of their lives both at home and overseas.

In 2012, although the socialized care institutions for the elderly were well-developed in Japan, 96 percent of elderly people still chose family endowment, and 98.25 percent of elderly people in southeast China's Taiwan Province also preferred the same pattern.

When it comes to Mainland China, due to the tradition of caring for elderly family members and the undeveloped social endowment system (by the end of 2015, the number of beds in social institutions for the aged were only 3 percent and many beds were vacant), it is conservatively estimated that the proportion of family endowment was no lower than 98 percent.

The majority of elderly people relied on their family members' care entirely but the support from society was gravely insufficient.

In addition, in the foreseeable future, with the first generation of parents who followed the one-child policy into senior age gradually, their view of supporting the aged will see a great difference compared with that of the elders of the past.

Therefore, ways of supporting the aged will be diversified and the needs of different types of social institutions will experience a dramatic increase. Thus, society should make early preparations for the allocation of resources for ageing issues.

2) The proportion of elders who live alone increased due to the improvement of the ability to live independently.

Data from the National Senior Citizens' Work Committee showed a remarkable improvement on the condition of elderly people's economic security. The income growth rate of urban and rural seniors was 5.9 percent and 9.1 percent respectively, which meant that elders had become more and more independent and reduced their dependence on their family members in economic terms.

Moreover, the seniors who had a better self-assessment about their health increased by 5.5 percent from 2000 to 2015 and they intended to live an independent life.

3) The intense pressures on families with elders who are disabled or suffer from dementia have increased.

According to the National Senior Citizens' Work Committee, around 40 million Chinese seniors are suffering from a disability or dementia at present and the majority of them rely on their family's care due to the low development of long-term care centers.

Moreover, many women have had to quit their jobs and apply for temporary work with low salaries in order to take care of their elderly relatives at home, which not only brings them heavy pressures both mentally and physically but also influences their quality of life.

In order to help families better shoulder the responsibility of caring for the aged, the government should carry out the establishment of a family endowment service system and improve families' healthy development.

Suggestions on Setting up Family Endowment Supporting System

The system aims to reduce the pressures on families, enhance families' abilities to implement endowment for seniors and improve elderly people's life quality in later life. This support is shown in five parts:

1) Economic support

The tax departments should consider taxpayers' conditions for supporting the elders in their families and reduce or remit their individual income tax. The Ministry of Civil Affairs should gradually set up the system to provide a long-term care allowance for families and recognize the social value of family members who take the responsibility of supporting seniors at home.

2) Time support

The country should regard the balance between work and family as an important instruction to maintain the healthy development of economic society. Some enterprises should also formulate flexible working hours for employees who have to support their elderly relatives and provide paid leave for them, which will help workers relieve pressures from their jobs and families.

3) Living environmental support

The urban planning departments should further improve the construction of public infrastructures, transportation, shopping centers and medical care for senior citizens, which will provide them with a convenient living environment and lessen their dependency on family members.

4) Long-term care support system

The government should emphasize the establishment of a family endowment system for the long-term care for those seniors who suffer from disability and dementia and install relevant institutions in communities, which will satisfy families' needs, reduce their pressure and enhance their ability to care for their elderly relatives.

5) Technical and psychological support

The government should also help social organizations conduct services and activities to provide families with the knowledge and skills to support seniors, improving the elderly people's quality of life.

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