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rural elders

“Why are rural elders reluctant to retire in the city”: Trending hashtag on Chinese social media

According to China’s Population and Development Research Center (中国人口与发展研究中心), by 2050, the number of people over the age of 80 in the country will quadruple. This means that China has entered the era of longevity and become home to the world’s largest elderly population. Facing a rapidly aging population, people are increasingly taking an active interest in elderly care, especially those whose parents are from rural areas while the caregivers have settled down in a city.

In the second week of February, the hashtag #Why are rural elders reluctant to retire in the city# has been trending on the Chinese social media Weibo. Within three days, this topic has been viewed over 140 million times. Although urban areas usually have better healthcare and infrastructure, many elderly people are still reluctant to leave their homes in the countryside. On this matter, many netizens have shared their thoughts under the hashtag.

Rural elders’ hesitation to retire in the city

For a start, elderly people from the countryside are usually self-sufficient living in villages, since they plant their own vegetables and raise livestock. Therefore, moving to the city would be costly for them since they would have to purchase daily necessities instead. Besides, it is hard for them to fit into city life and make new friends there as the majority of their social connections are still in the countryside.

On the other hand, due to the rural revitalization strategy (乡村振兴战略), infrastructures and social welfare are gradually improving in rural areas and more people are rediscovering the beauty of living in the countryside. “I yearned for city life when I was in my 20s. Now I am 35 and I just want to earn money quickly and pay off my mortgage next year. After that, I will live in the village for my elderly years. It would be so nice to plant flowers and have some fish in my yard. I will not move back to the city anymore.” A netizen commented.

Challenges and preferences in elderly care for China’s elderly population

  • The number of people over the age of 80 in China is projected to quadruple by 2050, making it the country with the largest elderly population.
  • The hashtag #Why are rural elders reluctant to retire in the city# gained significant attention on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, with millions of views within a few days.
  • Despite better healthcare and infrastructure in urban areas, many elderly people in rural areas are hesitant to move to the city. Reasons include self-sufficiency in villages, higher costs of living in cities, and social connections remaining in the countryside.
  • The rural revitalization strategy in China has led to improvements in infrastructure and social welfare in rural areas. As a result, more people are finding value in living in the countryside and expressing a desire to return to rural life.

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