China Sees Increasing Number of Seasonal Migrant Elderly Moving Places as Economic Income Rises

Wang Ling / Yicai


(Yicai Global) Dec. 7 -- On Dec. 5, Mr. Hu, a 63-year-old retired cadre, was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and strolling with some old friends in the breeze at a residential community in Haikou, Hainan, China's southernmost province. On that day, the temperature hit 25°C in Haikou, while in Taiyuan, Hu’s home city which is more than 2,400 kilometers away from Haikou, it was -8°C. Hu flies from Taiyuan to Haikou in October every year and flies back home in April, reflecting an emerging trend among China’s senior citizens.

There are about 450,000 migratory elderly people in Hainan alone, the latest official provincial data shows. Besides Hainan, southern provinces such as Guangxi and Yunnan also welcome an increasing number of senior migrants.

Most of the migratory elderly people in Hainan have a hukou, or a record of local citizenship, in northern regions, primarily in Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces, as well as Beijing. Senior migrants from these four places account for nearly 54 percent of the total elderly migrant population in Hainan.

About 90 percent of migratory elderly people believe that spending the winter in warm temperatures is their primary reason to visit Hainan, according to a survey. Many elderly people are vulnerable to winter-related illnesses due to cold weather in their home cities, while the warm and pleasant climate in Hainan is attractive to them.

More and more senior citizens in the south choose to move to the north in the summer to escape the hot and humid weather. The number of senior people migrating to Heilongjiang between May and September this year has reached one million, according to Sun Yongbo, deputy governor of China's northernmost province Heilongjiang and director of the province’s committee on aging.