The longer people live the better they are for business

Updated: 2016-03-08 08:23

By FU JING(China Daily)

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The longer people live the better they are for business

An elderly man tries a rehabilitation device for the arms at a healthcare and healthy lifestyle expo in Nantong, Jiangsu province, earlier this month. XU CONGJUN FOR CHINA DAILY

China has proposed to increase people's life expectancy by one year by 2020-from 76.34 in 2015, though women, on average, live longer than men. The goal was one among many announced by Premier Li Keqiang over the weekend for legislators to discuss and vote on at the ongoing annual session of National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

This goal is highly achievable, and a reference to past data-included in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20)-could explain why.

In 1981, the life expectancy of Chinese was 67.77 years. It took another almost 20 years to increase to 71.40, in 2000. But in 2015, that is, in 15 years, it reached 76.34. And there is no reason why the average life expectancy in China cannot increase by one year in the next five years, especially because people are expected to become richer, healthier and more educated.

Of course, detractors would say a rise in life expectancy will increase China's aging population further. But an increase in life expectancy in the world's most populous country can also be translated into opportunities for China and the rest of the world.

The rising life expectancy would add more dimensions to policy dialogues at the governmental level. The high per capita income in the European Union, particularly in Western European countries, the United States, Canada, Japan and Singapore have helped people live longer than their Chinese counterparts. This is to say developed economies have experienced this demographic change before China. And China can learn from their experiences to cope with the expected change and take measures to ensure better livelihood for its people.

On the other hand, China can become an example for other developing countries, especially those in Africa, when it comes to raising the average life expectancy of their people. This is important because the World Health Organization says African people would still be "young" in 2030 while the rest of the world's population would be rapidly aging.

China has also vowed to end absolute poverty by 2020, which will help further decrease the mortality rate at birth in rural regions and improve people's living standards. This could be another example for the other developing countries to follow. And China is willing to share its experiences with them.

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