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Accessibility and sustainability in elderly care policy in northwest China: findings from the Yulin livelihood project

2018 Conference Presentation

National systems China

12 September 2018

Accessibility and sustainability in elderly care policy in northwest China: findings from the Yulin livelihood project

Cheng Shi, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), United Kingdom

Lin Guo Huazhong, University of Science and Technology
Quan Lu Renmin, University of China


The ageing population are expected to rapidly grow in China in the next few decades. This presentation will introduce the selected findings on the accessibility of the older people’s receipt of formal support and sustainability of local authority funded care from a series livelihood project carried out by the China Association of Social Security funded by the local government of Yulin, which is the northernmost city of Shaanxi Province. It will profile the main issues and challenges surrounding the local authority funded care for older people and provide the corresponding policy implications in the context of the national-level policy design.

The project team conducted the qualitative research in 2017 by the group interviews constituted with the officials from the civil affairs bureau, the office on Ageing, the health and family planning bureau, the human resources and social security bureau, and the finance bureau both in the city-level and district-level, and also by individual interviews among the senior managers or the legal representatives of the public and the private care agencies and care homes. In addition, we also gathered and analysed the recent 5 years government documents and the official statistical data.

This research shows two main findings: a) The accessibility of older people’s receipt of the government-funded service is limited in home- and community-based care, only 7.82 per cent of the rural administrative villages with the supporting centre designed to provide lunch or activity space for older people living in their own dwelling and only 1.01 per cent of the urban communities with day centre providing very basic services, which rarely meet the increasingly diversified care need of the older adults. In respect of residential care, the average vacancy rate of the beds in 29 care homes and 89 apartments for the elderly is 56 per cent and 70 per cent respectively. It can be mainly explained by the double pressures of the social norms and the financial situation, whilst only people getting through the financial and family support assessment are eligible for the subsidy of the residential care. b) The municipal public investment in social service is still uncertain and insufficient which will adversely affect the sustainability of the care institutions and the attraction of the private investment on care market. The start-up of the rural supporting centres, for example, relied on the public fund or collective fund, whereas most of them are now providing free service for the local older people as an item of social welfare programme and lake of a steady funding for operation and running in the future.

In general, the difficulty of the accessibility for older people receiving formal support and the uncertainties of the sustainability of the local authority funded care as the two key issues of the Yulin will be addressed during the presentation.