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1 kid, 6 adults : China's new family

posted 30 Dec 2010, 04:50 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 30 Dec 2010, 04:53 ]
China's one-child policy results in one-child, six adult households, a demographic timebomb in a country unprepared for an ageing population.
ASIA-COMPANYASIA Meet Long Long, the second generation of China's one-child policy.

He has no cousins, no siblings. And when he grows up, he'll be looking after these six adults. It's a big burden for one person to be responsible for six elders.

LONGLONG'S FATHER, 33-YEAR-OLD ACCOUNTANT QIAN DENG SAYING:

"But it's not just a problem for our family. Many Chinese families have this challenge, but the two of us will be here to help him."

China's newest family structures are triggering the broadest pace of ageing ever. As the one-child policy passes its 30th anniversary, the generation of single children are building their families.

And when two single children marry, they're allowed to have two children.

LONGLONG'S MOTHER AND FATHER QIAN DENG SAYING:

"I would like to give him a little sister or brother. But from an economic point of view, a sister would be better."

"I think one is enough. The economic burden is too big to have another one.

PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT FUDAN UNIVERSITY PENG XIZHE SAYING:

"Now our own researches shows that less than half, about less than 50% of these newly-weds, they would really want to have two. So most of them either have, try to have one child, they think that one is enough; or they think they don't like to have kids at all."

For now, Long Long's family is well off.

One grandpa still works full time as a driver making about USD500-a-month. The other grandparents together pool in about USD900-a-month in pensions.

His grandparents helped his parents buy an apartment in Shanghai, and grandma looks after Long Long while his mother goes to work at an IPTD technology company. And his father runs a small delivery business.

Long Long's parents together make about USD1,500-a-month.

LONGLONG'S GRANDMOTHER SAYING :

"The key is that we stay healthy and continue to help our kids. If we get sick, all medical bills will be too much for us."

While China already has 167 million people over 60, it lacks any system such as proper healthcare to support the senior citizens or a clear policy to support investment in to the sector.

Traditionally, senior citizens have been the responsibility of their children.

PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT FUDAN UNIVERSITY PENG XIZHE SAYING:

So you have to change some of the responsibility, to introduce more and more social support towards the elderly, both in terms of the emotional, health, long-term care. So you will have to develop a lot of the physical societal healthcare systems, societal service systems. So you'll have to weigh the society can have just a single-child generation to look after their elderly together."

Without these changes, China could face a demographic time bomb. It's up to the government to move faster to make sure they can create a silver opportunity instead.

I'm Jane Lee from Reuters Insider

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