Social Policies for the Elderly in the Third World

By Martin B. Tracy | Go to book overview

3
The People's Republic of China: Decentralized Government Programs for the Elderly

As in most other economically developing nations, more government attention is being paid to the elderly in the People's Republic of China (PRC) because of identified needs that have accompanied urbanization, the impact of family planning policies, the nuclearization of families, increased longevity, and escalating proportions of older persons. Government policy decisions and program strategies regarding income, health care, and social services for the elderly conform to national goals of administrative decentralization accompanied by strengthening the role of families and community.

It is only very recently that the government has had to concern itself at all with the care of the elderly. As a result, formalized public social service, health, and income maintenance programs designed for this population are in the early stages of formation. In the past, there was a virtually exclusive reliance on informal family and community support systems that were based on a high esteem for older persons that is deeply ingrained in the nation's social fabric. Current policies continue to reflect a heavy dependence on local support and high regard for the elderly.

The decentralized administrative system, which contrasts with the conceptual framework of unified government control when the Communist government first assumed power in 1949, reflects an attempt to give more authority to community officials so that programs may be better adapted to local conditions. Under this

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