Beijing’s Elderly Residents Increase as Reforms in the Works
The capital city of Beijing has a larger elderly population than the average in China, a new report has shown, highlighting the pressures the sprawling metropolis faces to attract and retain younger residents.
According to the report, released Saturday by the demography research unit of the Beijing Administration Institute, 21.3% of the permanent residents in Beijing were aged 60 and above in 2022, 1.5% higher than the national average.
The city’s working-age population, which refers to those aged between 15 and 64, decreased to 15.9 million.
The number of permanent residents in the city has also decreased for six consecutive years, standing at 21.84 million in 2022, compared with 21.88 million in 2021.
Pan Helin, an economics researcher at Zhejiang University’s International Business School, told domestic media outlet Beijing Business Daily that many younger residents have left Beijing due to the high cost of living, moving instead to smaller cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in a trend of “reverse urbanization.”
According to the latest official data, those aged 60 and over accounted for 19.8% of China’s total population at the end of 2022, meeting the United Nations’ standard of an aging society.
The municipal government has introduced reforms targeted at the elderly in response, including several measures in October to build more barrier-free environments and elderly care facilities.
Earlier this month, municipal authorities also announced the promotion of a so-called “migratory bird retirement” for elderly residents, where they move south during winter for warmer climates.
But officials are also trying to retain and even attract younger residents, with several districts in the city announcing talent attraction initiatives in recent months.
In November, the central Xicheng District announced a 100 million yuan ($14 million) fund supporting the introduction of domestic and foreign talents, the district’s largest ever push for talent.
On Dec. 12, the southwestern Fengtai District announced its talent introduction plan, including subsidies of up to 2 million yuan and free housing.
However, the metropolis has yet to loosen household registration requirements, also known as the hukou, for college graduates this year as other cities have done.
In 2021, the municipal government relaxed requirements for undergraduate students to apply for residential permits and said that it was mulling further relaxation of hukou quotas, but no announcement has been made since.
Despite the fall in the proportion of young people, the report noted a more balanced distribution of the city’s population in newly developed suburban areas.
Beijing leads the country in life expectancy, with hukou residents reaching 82.47 years on average, according to the report.
Editor: Vincent Chow.
(Header image: People wait for buses during rush hour in Beijing, Dec. 28, 2022. IC)