The 14th Sino- Norwegian Social Policy Forum with the theme of “China in Unprecedented Aging”, co-organized by CIRD and NIBR-HiOA, was held in Haikou

  Time:2019-05-02   Hits:0

As a big country with nearly 1.4 billion population, China is undergoing historical changes in demographic structure, which have brought about a series of deep structural contradictions and challenges. How to effectively release the growth potential of economic transformation and upgrading in an aging society? How to effectively respond to the challenges of economic growth brought by aging through structural reforms? How to properly handle old-age security problems for hundreds of millions of people while keep economy growing? Those have become major issues that need to be solved urgently by an aging China. 


In this context, China Institute for Reform and Development (CIRD) and Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR-HiOA) co-organized the 14th Sino-Norwegian Social Policy Forum with the theme of “China in Unprecedented Aging” in Haikou on March 30-31, 2019. The forum focused on topics such as “Growth and Elderly Care”, “Institutions and Policies”, “Roles of the Government, the Society and Businesses”, “Inheritance and Innovations”. Scholars, policymakers and industrial representatives from relevant national ministries and commissions, research institutes and enterprises from 15 provinces and municipalities, also the experts from Norway, Japan and international organizations such as UNDP, UNFPA and ILO, in a total number of more than 300 people, participated in the forum. 


Chi Fulin, the president of China Institute for Reform and Development, pointed out that China is still in a critical period of transformation and development, economic growth is very important, and the issue of old-age security is becoming prominent. The "necessity of both economic growth and elderly care" has become a realistic choice for China. Professor Chi Fulin suggested that China in an aging society needs structural reforms to break the structural contradictions of growth and elderly care, the elderly care problems for nearly 1.4 billion people should be solved in the economic growth. Unleashing the growth potential in expanding the elderly care services requires not only the policy adjustments which are advanced and can delay and mitigate the aging impact for industries, employment, and population, it is also necessary to adapt to changes in demographic structure and promote major revolutions in relevant systems. Professor Chi Fulin suggested that the key is to play the role of the government, society and enterprises, on the basis of the government's "building a system, ensuring the foundation, and strictly supervising", mobilize the enthusiasm of many parties and form a joint force to cope with the challenges of aging as soon as possible. 


Arne Tesli, the senior researcher of NIBR-Oslo Metropolitan University, pointed out that Norway has established a better welfare system to ensure that all citizens have fair access to benefits and achieve the common and universal rights. Norway emphasizes inclusive and universal rights and ensures to solve everyone’s difficulties in their life. He also pointed out that in the face of demographic changes, Norway is also facing financial sustainability challenges. To avoid large-scale fiscal deficits, it is necessary to establish corresponding strategies and mechanisms. 


Cai Wu, the minister of China’s Former Ministry of Culture, who is also the former president of China National Arts Fund, pointed out that the appearance of the aging society has put forward a major task of deepening reform for China in this period of transformation and development. To complete this major task, it is necessary to thoroughly summarize the successful experience gained in the 40 years of reform and opening up, and further release the reform dividends while insisting on deepening reform in order to adapt to the new problems in the new era, new stage and new circumstances; we must weigh all kinds of ideas, plans and methods with an open and inclusive attitude, plan carefully, complete the top-level design, improve the policy system, lay emphasis on practical measures, make the elderly care career have a healthy development, enable the stable development of the economy and society and realize the social fairness and justice. 


Xu Bin, the vice secretary-general of the People’s Government of Hainan Province, pointed out that as a tropical island with a “natural medicine storehouse” and which is a hometown of South Medicine, Hainan will rely on its advantages of resources and environment, adhere to the characteristic development, expand and build a comprehensive and full-cycle health industrial chain, take measures to preliminarily build a smart and ecological island in six years, and build the brand of “Global Health Island” and “Longevity Island”. The first is to actively explore and meet the multi-level needs of the people. Continue to strengthen the government's responsibilities in system construction, planning, policy, and supervision, actively foster and expand the diversified market players, and encourage the society to participate in the development of the health industry and meet the needs of all parties. The second is to concentrate on the development of the nourishment & health industry. Rely on Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone as the core of the province's health industry development, accumulate excellent resources from home and abroad, and promote the nourishment & health industry to become bigger and stronger. The third is to rely on the " nourishment & health +", promote the cooperation between health tourism, medical care and medicine, create a comprehensive and full-cycle health industry chain. 


Atle Fremming Bjørnstad, the advisor of Work and Welfare Directorate (NAV) in Norway, introduced the elderly care system implemented in Norway since 2012. The challenge of the original pension system in Norway is that more and more people receiving pensions and the average level of pensions is rising, the work incentives for the elderly are insufficient, and the financial sustainability of pensions is challenged. The goal of the reform is to reduce pension costs, adjust the structure, and make pension expenditures and pension systems more sustainable. The biggest adjustment is to link the pension expenditures to the entire occupational income; adopt an elastic retirement policy. In addition, new indexation rules have been set up to link pensions to the overall income level and to make redistribution more beneficial to vulnerable groups. 


Song Xiaowu, the former chairman of China Society of Economic Reform, pointed out that when facing the “silver hair wave”, China's economy and society need to be prepared accordingly. First, in terms of human resources and employment, we must shift from a big country to a strong country, from low labor cost competition to innovation development. Second, in the pension insurance, it is necessary to realize the national overall planning of the basic pension insurance for employees as soon as possible, and at the same time build a multi-level employee pension insurance system. Third, in the construction of the elderly health care system and the child welfare system, it is necessary to make full use of various resources, increase investment, and expand the supply of related services. Fourth, in terms of consumption structure, the proportion of elderly consumption has increased substantially, and it is necessary to make corresponding preparations. Fifth, in terms of culture and ethics, the philosophical transformation is needed when entering an aging society. 


Chen Xiaohong, the vice minister of Former Ministry of Health, pointed out that aging is an objective existence and an objective trend, it is necessary to use its positive factors to turn unfavorable factors into favorable factors. The first is to combine China's excellent traditional culture with the Chinese characteristics in the new era. The second is to combine the traditional lifestyles with social progress, even home-based elderly care should also be socialized and supported by social services. The third is to combine the government’s responsibilities and the market’s vitality. The government ensures the basic supply and fully energizing the market. 


Tian Xueyuan, the academician of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that the impact of population aging on social and economic development is bidirectional, it is necessary to plan ahead and seek development ideas and countermeasures that can promote the advantages and remove the disadvantages. The first is to adhere to the employment priority policy: release the remaining demographic dividends in the “post-population golden age”. The second is to be more concerned about the quality rather than the quantity of employment: escort for high-quality development. The third is to deepen the reform of the old-age security system: boost consumption as a driving force of economic development. 


Babatunde Ahonsi, the UNFPA representative in China, pointed out that population aging is not only a problem facing China but also a global issue. Compared with developed countries, most developing countries are facing the problem of being old before getting rich. How to turn crisis into opportunity under aging requires a comprehensive strategy, including the policy of the labor market. It is also necessary to consider the needs and characteristics of young people in dealing with population aging. 


Zheng Jingping, the deputy director of Academic Council of China Center for International Economic Exchanges, pointed out that when entering an aging society, we face the basic contradiction of "more people consume, fewer people produce", it is necessary to play the role of human resources as much as possible, create more wealth, and make good use of it. Improve the wealth creation ability of mankind and increase the total supply, properly allocate and use the wealth, establish a long-term concept of dealing with the population aging in mind, make full use of the revolutionary achievements of artificial intelligence technology, innovate the old-age model, mobilize all forces in the society and adopt various forms of old-age services.


CIRD and NIBR-HiOA have been collaborating for 17 years since 2002. With the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Beijing, the Sino-Norwegian Social Policy Forum jointly organized by two sides has become an important academic exchange platform for experts and scholars in the social policy fields from China and Norway. A series of research and discussion results have produced important policy implications and a wide range of social influences. 

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