Most countries are experiencing growth in the number and proportion of their ageing populations and this issue is posing challenges for economies and societies worldwide. The most populated country in the world, China, is experiencing a dramatic increase in its ageing population. As China is the world’s largest developing country, its serious ageing issue may have far-reaching effects not only domestically but also in other countries and even globally.
In order to overcome the weaknesses of traditional statistical models and reveal further detail regarding the local area evolution, an improved Bayesian space-time model is presented in this paper and used to estimate the spatiotemporal evolution of Chinese ageing from 1992 to 2015.
The six eastern provinces with high levels of ageing have been experiencing an almost steady state, while Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang have weak increased trends of ageing, and the weak increased trend is decreasing. Although the northern and western provinces belong to the low ageing area, five of them have strong local growth trends and therefore strong potential to exacerbate ageing. Under the background of the “comprehensive two children” policy, the forecast value of China’s ageing rate is 13.80% (95% CI:11.24%,18.83% is) in 2030.
Considering developments over the past 24 years, it has been determined that the areas of the Chinese mainland that are experiencing the highest levels of growth in ageing populations are the two central provinces, which are connected to seven eastern provinces and five southwestern provinces. High ageing areas are not only concentrated in the eastern provinces, but also include Sichuan and Chongqing in the southwest region and Hubei and Hunan of the central region. The seven provinces (municipalities or autonomous regions) of the central and western regions have both high ageing levels and strong growth rates, but the growth rate is decreasing.