HKUST Alumni - Winter News 2015 - page 8

HKUST Alumni News 2015
The HKUST Edge
hina has the largest number of
elderly people in the world. At
the end of 2011, the country was
home to about 185 million people aged 60
and over; the proportion of elderly is expected
to rise from 12% in 2010 to 34% by 2050.
“Population aging is a huge challenge to
many countries, but in China it is particularly
daunting because it has the largest elderly
population in the world and is facing the
associated problems at an earlier stage
in development because of the one-child
policy,” explains Prof Albert Park, Director
of the HKUST Institute for Emerging Market
Studies (IEMS) and Chair Professor of Social
Science and Professor of Economics.
Until recently there was a paucity of
data on the issues facing elderly people in
China, but that has now changed thanks to
the establishment of the China Health and
Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS),
established by Prof Park, along with Prof
Yaohui Zhao of Peking University and Prof
John Strauss of the University of Southern
CHARLS provides a unique, high-quality
dataset to support the scienti c analysis of
aging issues in China. “First, it follows people
over time, so we can better understand the
dynamic processes that affect aging,” says
Prof Park. “Second, it is multi-disciplinary and
recognizes that challenges occur in many
different domains of life, so it covers health
status, medical care, material well-being,
family support, and work and retirement.
Third, the data is publicly available for
researchers to access. To date over 6,000
researchers have registered on the website.”
It kicked off with a pilot survey carried
out in 2008, involving 2,685 people in two
provinces – by design, the poorest and the
richest provinces. The rst nationwide survey
was conducted in 2011-12, using multi-
stage random sampling. A total of 10,287
households with at least one member of 45
years of age or older in 450 villages or urban
neighborhoods in 150 counties and districts in
28 provinces were surveyed; the interviewees’
spouses were also included, bringing the
Facing Up
to an
Societies around the globe must cope with rapid population
aging, but China’s enormous size and recent history make its
challenges particularly acute. The CHARLS national baseline
survey is the rst to provide a comprehensive dataset, which
government agencies and researchers can use to help them
understand the issues and formulate policies.
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