It is widely known and accepted that the Communist Party’s strict one-child policy in China would cause the population to experience a peak and a subsequent shrink. But this is becoming a reality that has the potential to hugely impact the country.
In November 2020, China completed its 7th ten-yearly census, and the results were expected early April 2021. May has brought no announcement thus prompting various leaks to emerge that suggest results so shocking the party is conflicted about breaking the news to the public. On April 27th The Financial Times reported that the census will show that the population has fallen below 1.4bn, still higher than the 1.34bn in the 2010 census, but lower than it was a year before. But leaks are sometimes inaccurate.
It is evident that China is tackling a demographic problem. This includes indications that China’s total fertility rate (number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime) has experienced a major drop. Chinese planners have predicted a rate of 1.8, but some the World Bank has stated a range of 1.6 to 1.7; possibly even dropping to 1.5.
Additionally China’s working-age population, those between the ages of 16 and 64 years, has been falling since 2011. Simultaneously, the population aged over 60 has risen from 10.4% in 2000 to 17.9% in 2018. The latest prediction is that by 2050 one-third of Chinese will be 60 or older. Creating economic concerns as well as a burden for the younger generation. In a report published in 2019 the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences warned that China’s main pension fund could run out of money as soon as 2035. Extending working lives also risks further decrease in birth rates, with many families relying on grandparents for childcare support.
Another demographic concern is the continued imbalance between men and women. In 2019 there were approximately 30 million more Chinese men than women. Disparity in marriageable age along with other factors has led to low birth rates; putting more pressure on the party to abandon coercive birth-control policies.
James Liang, an economist at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, believes that China’s distorted demographics will limit the size of its market and talent pool, thus hindering its rise. China will never accept significant numbers of immigrants, so America will have a big advantage, he says.
Will China rebalance their population or will the USA overtake it as a contender in World Economic power?
This article has been written by Kyra Songadwala for The Paradigm.
See you next time…