A 77-year-old man living in a converted rickshaw illustrates a growing problem among China's aging population: abandonment.
After vigorously keeping its population growth down for three decades, China is now aging rapidly. 126 million people of its total population of 1.35 billion are over the age of 65. Though its elderly are part of the generation that built modern China, many are living a hard life: 35 million in poverty and 50.4 million reportedly suffering from depression. The man in these photos, Li Baozhen, lives alone in a makeshift home he made out of a rickshaw under a pedestrian overpass in the city of Jinan, in Shandong province, according to the Chinese financial newspaper Caixin. Baozhen says he was abandoned by his three sons more than 10 years ago.
Retirement funds and public pensions are only recent inventions in China. Though pensions and health insurance plans have expanded somewhat in recent years, China’s aged must live on much less than their counterparts in developed countries. Traditionally, it was taken for granted that all children should take care of their parents -- a failure to do so would be embarrassing for any family -- but contemporary demographics mean that when children (who are typically fewer in number than in the past) are less than filial, just getting by can become a major challenge.
Sophie is a graduate of Northwestern University. She covers the emerging markets in Southeast Asia, with a particular interest in foreign investment in the region....