China's Rapidly Aging Population Drives $652 Billion 'Silver Hair' Market

Photograph by Greg Baker/Getty Images

The increase in China’s elderly people to more than 200 million has created a host of challenges, from a shrinking labor force to soaring pension needs. But there’s a silver-haired lining.

The market of goods and services for China’s rapidly aging population will reach 4 trillion yuan ($652 billion) this year, or eight percent of GDP, according to the “China Report on the Development of the Silver Hair Industry” issued Tuesday in Beijing.

The industry is expected to rise to 106 trillion yuan ($17 trillion) by 2050, amounting to a third of the Chinese economy. That would make it the world’s largest market for the aged. That year China will have 480 million people over 60—one quarter of the world’s elderly—says the report, which was published Sept. 23 by the China National Committee on Aging.

“The silver hair industry has started the rapid booming phase, making it a new promising industry in China,” said Wu Yushao, deputy director of the committee, reports the China Dailytoday. “The major reason for the boom is based on the growing number of aging people.”

Future opportunities to serve the elderly will be clustered in four main fields, the report explains. Those include appliances (to serve the less-mobile elderly, for example), services (such as home care and special transportation), real estate (assisted living centers), and financial services. The latter—insurance and money management for the elderly, for example—will make up the biggest portion of the market and still has lots of room to grow.

While 6.21 million people work in the U.S. financial industry and more than half focus on retirees, China has only 5.27 million, estimates Dang Junwu, deputy head of the Beijing’s Chinese Research Center on Aging. “There has been a huge gap in the financing industry for senior residents between China and the developed countries,” Dang told the English-language paper.

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