Elderly Technology Report

Over the last few decades China has emerged as one of the world’s largest economies. Millions of individuals have experienced great increases in wealth and a subsequent rise in their standard of living. A natural phenomenon that occurs as countries develop is the growth of the aging population and by 2030 the Chinese elderly  (65+ years old) are projected to account for 23% of China’s population (UN, 2010 via BBC, 2012). Many of these future elderly are the current middle-aged population, and will be armed with increased spending power and demands for higher-quality lifestyles.

Technology plays an ever-greater role in the lives of the Chinese populace. While the uptake may be more challenging for seniors, well-designed technological services can meet the needs of the elderly like never before. The increased purchasing power of the elderly population further enhances these unprecedented opportunities for public and private actors to meet their demands.

In recent years, the mobilization of technology has ushered in a new era in which smartphones are the key platforms for producer and consumer engagement. As a result, this report uses smartphones as a tangible example to explore the broader dynamics of technological adoption and usage by the elderly.

Through surveys and interviews with Chinese seniors (60+ years old) regarding smartphone ownership and usage, we provide foundational insights into their current relationship with technology to ultimately spark and inform innovation. We then present a transferable model that is fundamental to identification and explanation of why gaps in elderly adoption of technological innovation arise in both present and future markets.

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