The Silver Wave: The Growing Aging Population in China and the Emergence of Elderly Education

By 2030, approximately one in six people worldwide will be aged 60 years or older. By 2050, the global population of individuals aged 60 years and above will double, reaching 2.1 billion. Furthermore, it is anticipated that the number of individuals aged 80 years or older will triple between 2022 and 2050, totaling 600 million.

China is currently experiencing one of the most rapid increases in its aging population. As of the end of 2022, there were 280 million individuals aged 60 and above in China, accounting for 19.8 percent of the total population. This figure is projected to exceed 300 million by 2025 and reach 400 million by around 2035.

To enhance the sense of fulfillment, happiness, and safety among the elderly, China has introduced a guideline outlining measures to implement its national strategy for addressing population aging. These measures include increasing social participation among the elderly by improving the availability of educational resources and enhancing the quality of cultural and sporting services for this demographic. In its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), China has also outlined various initiatives to promote education for the elderly.

Why is China placing such importance on elderly education? Research highlights the transformative effects of continued educational engagement in later years. Pursuing knowledge and training in older age has been associated with numerous health benefits. It not only enhances cognitive abilities, promoting mental agility and creativity, but also fosters well-being and facilitates the formation of enriching social networks. Lifelong learning offers cumulative advantages, leading to an increased sense of autonomy and fulfillment. In essence, it broadens horizons and significantly contributes to the overall quality of life in older age.

China has implemented significant transformations in elderly education. Education for the elderly has been integrated into China’s comprehensive lifelong learning system, aiming to stimulate the growth of educational resources tailored specifically for older adults. This holistic approach includes strengthening the development of specialized disciplines, training personnel, and creating educational content that addresses the unique needs of this demographic. A shared service platform has also been established to enhance accessibility to these resources for the elderly population. These collective efforts enrich and enhance the infrastructure supporting elderly education, ensuring continued engagement with learning in later stages of life.

According to a report by Frost & Sullivan in September 2022, China’s adult learning industry has experienced rapid growth, with the market size increasing from RMB 383.3 billion in 2017 to RMB 566.4 billion ($56 billion to $82 billion) in 2021, representing a compound annual growth rate of 10.3%. It is projected to reach RMB 994.7 billion by 2026.

Major educational institutions across China are actively responding to government policies and supporting the advancement of elderly education. QuantaSing Group (NASDAQ: QSG) stands out as the largest online learning service provider for adult interest learning in China and one of the top five service providers in the adult learning market based on revenue in 2021.

The “Silver Wave” represents not just a statistic but also a testament to the resilience and capacity of the human spirit to learn, grow, and adapt regardless of age. Elderly education goes beyond being a mere policy or strategy; it serves as a vehicle for empowerment, facilitating active participation in society, fostering connections, and enhancing overall quality of life. Companies like QuantaSing play a crucial role in bridging the gap between the elderly population and education by leveraging technology. These efforts demonstrate the intersection of business acumen and social responsibility, creating a win-win situation for both the economy and society as a whole.

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