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Rising cost of elderly care offers huge profit potential

Updated: 2016-07-19 10:37
By Huang Xiangyang (China Daily)

By the end of 2014, the number of people aged 60 and above in China had reached 212 million, or about 16 percent of the total population, according to official figures. In 2050, that number is expected to more than double, to account for one-third of the total population.

While the problem poses tremendous challenges for the government, which has to ensure its pension fund and welfare institutions can accommodate the rising number of senior people, growing by around 10 million each year, it also means huge business opportunities for related industries.

Wu Xiaobo, a celebrity finance and economics commentator, has forecast that the elderly care sector will surpass commercial property to become the largest industry in China, by being worth more than 10 trillion yuan in 15 years.

I have searched the internet and consulted some friends to get information on possible healthcare options for my parents. Most centers that are available are private ones, located in the city suburbs, and cost up to 8,000 yuan per month depending on services, facilities and health conditions of applicants. The price tags are higher than most people can afford.

The few public ones, with better locations and much lower costs, at about 3,000 yuan, are basically impossible to get in as the waiting time for admittance can easily be more than 10 years.

And my parents are strongly against the idea of spending their last years in a care center. They prefer to stay at home and find someone to look after them.

So in the end, I found myself at a service center that provides domestic helpers located in the basement of a building near my parents' neighborhood. It was still a buyer's market, as a group of middle-aged women from rural areas in Anhui, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces waited there to be hired, for a monthly salary of around 3,000 yuan. I doubt they had any professional training to attend to the elderly. But right now they seem the best candidates to whom I can entrust my parents to.

The elderly care sector may still be at a rudimentary stage. But I am sure it has a promising future, given the sheer size of China's elderly population.

And I have bet on it, with my first investment in a fund dedicated to the sector.

Contact the writer at huangxiangyang@chinadaily.com.cn

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