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Under the adjusted plan, subsidies for new establishments have been significantly increased, with each new bed for elderly care and each new slot in universal childcare service venues eligible for grants of 50,000 yuan and 20,000 yuan respectively

China has unveiled a strategy to address the challenges posed by its rapidly ageing population and declining birth rate. In response to these pressing issues, exacerbated by a sinking birth rate, Beijing has disclosed plans to expand its community-based elderly care networks and childcare centers.

The revised implementation plan, covering care services for both young and old, aims to enhance resource networks in rural areas.

Released jointly by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and the National Health Commission, the updated plan includes increased subsidies for new establishments in elderly care and childcare.

Under the adjusted plan, subsidies for new establishments have been significantly increased, with each new bed for elderly care and each new slot in universal childcare service venues eligible for grants of 50,000 yuan and 20,000 yuan respectively. This marks a notable increase from the previous rates of 20,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan per new slot.

China’s demographic challenges, including an ageing population and declining birth rate, have raised concerns about a shrinking labour force, strained social welfare systems, and rising healthcare expenses. These demographic trends have implications for economic growth, compounded by other challenges such as property market downturns, local government debt, and the need to adjust China’s growth model.

Official data indicates that China had 216.76 million people aged over 65 in 2023, with projections suggesting that by 2035, people over 60 will account for 32.7% of the population. The proportion of those aged 65 and above is also expected to rise significantly.

To address these challenges, China aims to improve infrastructure conditions for elderly care and childcare services, encouraging the provision of inclusive services and strengthening the three-tiered elder care network. The focus has shifted towards elderly care, with initiatives such as home-based community care networks tailored to meet the needs of the elderly, including disability care and medical assistance.

While the original plan included provisions for “child-friendly cities,” the new version emphasizes elderly care, reflecting the changing demographics and the need to adapt to evolving societal needs. The plan also highlights support for public healthcare institutions to establish or expand facilities for integrated medical and elderly care services in areas with surplus medical resources.

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