Ageing China offers silver lining for investors

Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:07am EST
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By Jane Lanhee Lee and Lucy Hornby

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Retired professor Chen Chongyu and his wife Liu Zhenjuan dreamed of coming back to China from their daughter's home in France, but until last year the couple had nowhere to go.

That changed when they found Cherish-Yearn, an upscale retirement community on the fringes of Shanghai and a pioneer in catering to China's prosperous elderly.

Businesses are just starting to tap the rapidly expanding senior citizens' market -- China's new silver industry.

"Every year we would come back to China, and we would visit retirement homes. But we couldn't find anything," said 79-year-old Chen, a history professor who specialized in the French revolution.

"When we finally found this place we felt we could return."

China's traditional model of children living with their elderly parents is under siege, thanks to 30 years of the one-child policy and rapid urban migration.

Leaving their daughter's home in France, Liu, 74, and Chong paid 690,000 yuan (US$104,545) to move into a three-room apartment on Cherish-Yearn's beautifully sculpted campus.

An annual fee of 88,000 yuan covers basic medical and cleaning services, and various activities.   Continued...

<p>An elderly man reads newspapers on a street in Beijing December 22, 2010. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic</p>