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A New Approach to Elder Care in China

Some retirees in China are living in resorts. About an hour from downtown Shanghai, seniors reside in a complex with 2,000 households, a hospital, a worship space, a gym, and a cinema. In order to get in, seniors must buy life insurance from a company called Taikang Life Insurance Co.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, China’s insurance companies have spent $10 billion on retirement communities. The goal is to find a way to care for the 1.4 billion Chinese who will be 60 or older by 2050. Due to the government policy restricting children, the country is not prepared to care for the aging population.

These new developments are certainly a luxury. A life insurance policy costs $300,000 and rent is $2,000 a month. One resident, Mr. Hua said he rents out his apartment in Shanghai to pay for his unit in the Taikang development and has made many friends in the development: “With so many housekeepers around, it’s a luxury we can’t afford if we live by ourselves.”

Similar developments may be coming to the U.S. Taikang bought a 19% stake in an overseas portfolio of seniors housing complexes in the U.S. and Great Britain. Another Chinese insurer, Union Life Insurance Co., also purchased senior-housing assets in Colorado, Oregon, and Virginia.

While seniors are often apprehensive about moving into senior-living facilities, Mr. Hua makes a good point—few seniors could afford the many services provided on their own.

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