In DepthSociology

Rural China is no country for old people

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Science  15 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6283, pp. 283
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6283.283

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Summary

Worldwide, suicide rates are highest among people over 70. But in rural China, experts call the rising suicide rate among elderly people—now about 47 per 100,000 people—a public health crisis. The epidemic's roots lie in the unraveling of traditional family life in China. As economic development and urbanization lure able-bodied young people out of villages and into China's massive migrant workforce, many elderly people are left behind to fend for themselves. Beginning next year, the central government will gradually hike the official retirement age—a move that could help many seniors feel less isolated and more valuable to society. But those who study China's elderly say much more must be done.

  • * in Zhangjiajie, China