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close this bookLiving Conditions of Low-income Older Persons in Human Settlements UNCHS (Habitat) (HABITAT, 1999, 38 p.)
close this folderPART 3
close this folderIV. COUNTRY CASE STUDIES
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Beijing, China

Mr. Xiao Caiwei, Deputy Director, International Department of the China National Committee on Ageing, very kindly volunteered to undertake the sample survey of older people himself. Mr. Xiao provided the statistical results of his survey, which provides the basis for the following report on his findings. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend the workshop as he was at another meeting on ageing in Canada.

All of the older people interviewed lived in apartments in the City of Beijing. Most (70%) of the elderly were over 65, and 30% were over 70. The vast majority (80%) were women. Two thirds of those interviewed said they were in good health; over half reported no disabilities, but 40% reported hearing loss and a few reported difficulties in sight and walking. Only 2 used wheelchairs or crutches. They were mostly long-term residents as most had moved to Beijing before 1960, and three-fourths had moved into their dwelling before 1980 or during the 1980’s. Household sizes were small, with 55% living alone or with a spouse, and 45% reporting they lived with children.

Only one person had a job, and half those interviewed said they were not willing to work. This may be because all respondents said they received a pension. However, one-third said the pension was sufficient. The housing was predominantly government- only 20% said they owned their apartment. The rents seem to be low, as 40% said it was less than 30% of their income. (However, half the people did not answer this question)

All dwellings have indoor piped water and private toilets. Three-fourths have indoor showers, and most said the cost of water and utilities is affordable. Most said that public waste disposal is provided at affordable cost. However, only half reported adequate police and fire protection. Street cleaning was satisfactory. Most people reported that health and other community services were provided, but only a third recognized the existence of inter-generational activities. Most reported using public transport, but said there was no reduced fare for older people. In communications, half the people have TV, radio and telephones, and some of the others had only 1 or 2 types of communication.

When asked to cite their problems, 7 reported they had none; 2 needed more space; 2 needed more health services and only one cited lack of security and safety. As 5 did not respond to this question, we may assume they also had no problems to report. In reviewing the findings, one may wonder if the sample included poor people.