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Silver Tsunami as One of the Driving Forces Behind PPP in China


A project done as PPP (public–private partnership) is a venture jointly funded and operated by a government and private entities. Introduced towards the end of the 20th century in the light of the transformation of infrastructure into a market-oriented economy,[1] the PPP model has found its way into the Chinese public administration, especially at the local level. China’s planning agency National Development and Reform Commission in early 2015 released a list of more than 1,000 projects totaling US$ 317.75 billion that will be done as PPP.[2]

The driving forces behind the PPP trend in China are the mounting local government debts[3] and the challenge brought about by the country’s ageing population. The impact of the need for better infrastructure for elderly care is more felt at the local level than it is at the national level. In the country’s capital, for example, the more than 80,000 beds at senior care homes will not be enough to accommodate the number of elderly people in the city, which is 3.22 million elderly people at the end of 2014 according to Beijing’s statistics bureau. Of the 80,000 beds, about 50,000 are private owned,[4] indicating that the Beijing local government has a lot of catching up to do in terms of providing elderly care infrastructure. If this is the case of the country’s highly urbanised capital, one could only picture the situation in other parts of the country.

As China’s economy continues to grow, so does the need for elderly care institutions, and the role of private entities through PPP in helping provide elderly care infrastructure has never been more apparent. Finally, although not in the mainstream PPP, another way in which private entities can help deal with the Silver Tsunami is by programmes designed to provide training to caregivers or even relatives of the elderly on how to care for their aged patients or loved ones at homes using relevant technology, thereby lessening the need for elderly care homes and helping local governments.