The past decade has seen China grow steadily older, thanks to Mao Zedong, who encouraged a population boom in the middle of the last century, and Deng Xiaoping, who enacted a one-child policy beginning in 1979 that quickly cut that boom short. The numbers are staggering: The government estimates that by 2015, China will have approximately 220 million people over the age of 60. Beijing is struggling to plan for what to do with its elderly; China, traditionally a society where family members look after their own, has a limited safety net. And yet the family ties that once guaranteed that aging parents would have somewhere to go are unraveling in the process of modernization, leaving many of China's elderly facing an uncertain future.
Above, a group of elderly Chinese people gather at a park in
Zhengzhou, in China's central Henan province, in 2011.