China’s rapidly aging population creates policy challenges in shaping a viable long-term care system
In China, formal long-term care services for the large aging population have increased to meet escalating demands as demographic shifts and socioeconomic changes have eroded traditional elder care. We analyze China’s evolving long-term care landscape and trace major government policies and private-sector initiatives shaping it. Although home and community-based services remain spotty, institutional care is booming with little regulatory oversight. Chinese policy makers face mounting challenges overseeing the rapidly growing residential care sector, given the tension arising from policy inducements to further institutional growth, a weak regulatory framework, and the lack of enforcement capacity. We recommend addressing the following pressing policy issues: building a balanced system of services and avoiding an “institutional bias” that promotes rapid growth of elder care institutions over home or community-based care; strengthening regulatory oversight and quality assurance with information systems; and prioritizing education and training initiatives to grow a professionalized long-term care workforce.