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Opportunities and challenges of the Chinese senior care industry

If you talk about senior care to an elderly Chinese, the first image that springs to their mind might be a hospice-like, unhygienic environment. But thanks to the introduction of quality, foreign-owned senior care centers, an aging population, and a shift in cultural values, more and more local elders are starting to accept the idea of not living with their children. While such changes might open up more opportunities in the potentially lucrative senior care market in China, all that glitters is not gold.

In this post, we will feature the opportunities and challenges faced by the senior care sector in China, as well as how Pacific Prime China can help you.


Many investors describe the senior care sector as a sunrise industry, and below are some of the attributing factors.

Shifting demographics

According to United Nations data, over 350 million Chinese population will be over 60 by 2050, accounting for a third of the country’s 1.4 billion total population. Additionally, it is forecasted that life expectancy at birth will be over 80 by 2050, which further increases the demand for elder care in the coming decades.

The one-child policy, which was in force for more than 30 years and limited parents to have only one child, also adds fuels to the problem. It was reported that the working age population would fall to 700 million by 2050, mounting even more pressure on those of working age to provide for those not in the labor force.


To achieve the ideal of filial piety, most Chinese usually live with their parents. However, modernization has strained the traditional way of family coresidence, and households with “three generations under one roof” are becoming less common. Some parents may even voluntarily choose to move out from where their adult children live. In light of this, a residence with quality services, an ideal environment, and other fellow elders seems to be a sensible option.

Government Policy

In the past, the central government allocated more resources for in-home care rather than residential-based care since they believed the former was more cost-effective. However, to better cope with the looming problem of an aging population, the government has in recent years launched different incentives to encourage property developers to construct more senior care communities.

One example of such incentives is that the government started allowing senior care businesses to be operated as “wholly foreign-owned” enterprises in 2015. Hence, foreign investors no longer have to partner with a local firm to take part in the industry.


Having said that, there are numerous challenges lying ahead in the senior care sector in China.

Culture Difference

Generally speaking, Chinese people tend to have rather different lifestyles and values compared to Westerners. Hence, it is crucial for senior care service providers to identify and address these differences before entering the market.

For instance, while Western elders prefer being surrounded by mother nature, Chinese elders tend to value proximity to their children and grandchildren above being surrounded by lush environments. Another example is that, while Western elders tend to enjoy moments of serenity more, some Chinese elders might prefer the boisterous and lively vibe of playing mahjong and singing karaoke.

Human resources

As mentioned above, traditional Chinese people tend to live with their parents so naturally most local employees lack relevant experience and practical know-how of senior care. As a result, companies might have to provide training to staff at different levels, from managers to operational staff and even services specialists, in order to maintain the professional service standard, which in turn adds extra operation costs.

Moreover, there is no existing officially-accredited training scheme or senior care quality standards in China. In consequence, owners might have a hard time locating, hiring, training, and retaining talent.

Public Liability

In 2014, the Chinese authorities issued a circular encouraging homes for the elderly to insure against risks. This is because senior care homes provide special nursing services, and residents are regarded by insurers as third parties. Given the special nature of the business, they are more prone to lawsuits and compensation claims if there’s any injury or loss of property happening in the homes. Hence, it is crucial for senior care homes to secure proper professional indemnity and public liability policies ahead of time to cover these risks.

Get professional advice today!

Given the business risks of the senior care industry and the extensive protection the right insurance solutions can provide, it is definitely worthwhile to seek professional advice from Pacific Prime China. With 18+ years of experience and 7 regional offices around the world, we have a dedicated property & casualty insurance team who are on hand to assess the risks of your business and match you with the best coverage. Contact us today to get a FREE quote and plan comparison!

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