Demographic Analysis: Aging Before Enrichment

China has entered the demographic window in the years between 1980 and 1990 when labor was abundant. This demographic window will close in 2025. The amount of labor is still sufficient. Subsequently, the workforce will shrink and the proportion of elderly will increase. The solution lies in growing range of industry and changing the mode of economic development.

To confront this phenomenon, Zhai Zhenwu (翟振武), a professor at Renmin University of China said that the government must generalize pension insurance, social insurance and health insurance. Second, it must create a system of services for the elderly. For example, special agencies such as family services and food services will serve the elderly. In addition, the public must pay attention to psychological assistance of the elderly.

Currently, China is aging before enrichment. While Europe is aging and enriched. Aging is rapid in China, but the demographic transition is faster. China is not ready yet in several material and institutional areas.

China has a population of over one billion people. A great transition will bring changes in population structure and gender balance. For example, the low birth rate accelerates aging. China now has 180 million elderly people. Aging progresses over the next decade. Chinese born in the 1960s represent the majority of seniors from 2021 to 2031. China’s population structure will resemble a mushroom cloud with seniors. After that, because of the reduction in birth rates since the 1970s, the number of seniors will fall. But China will face a demographic peak of 400 million aged people.

Afterwards, the birthrate has fallen to the level of mortality. Europe has taken a century or two to enter an era characterized by low birth rates and death rates, low growth, and China, some thirty years.
According to the professor, “breeding population” is the relationship between birth, death and population growth. In the past, for example in Europe and China before the liberation, the population was characterized by a high birth rate, high mortality and low growth. With the industrial revolution and the development of medical and health services, the world has experienced a reduction in the mortality rate while the birth rate remained stable. This era is marked by a high birth rate, low mortality and rapid growth.

According to him, China’s population is experiencing a tremendous change and transition. After years of strict family planning, China has restricted its rapid population growth. This slowdown has been observed for two decades.

Annual population growth is becoming weaker. In the 1960s, newborns were among 26 to 27 million per year. In 1962, the birth rate was the highest, 29 million people across the country. The net growth per year was 22 million with 7 million deaths per year. But now, the net growth per year is 7 million. In the coming years, this figure will become weaker. Population growth will be zero when the new born will be as numerous as the dead.
Problems such as aging of the Chinese population, shortage of labor, the gender imbalance are discussed. Zhai Zhenwu, professor of Renmin University, has analyzed the demographics of the country in an interview with Guangzhou Ribao (Guangzhou Daily).

The results of the sixth census, China’s population is composed of 1,339,724,852 people. In 31 provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central authority and active duty military from the mainland, the proportion of population aged 0 to 14 years fell by 2.93 points, the 15 to 59 increased by 3.36 points, people over 60 has increased by 2.93 points, people over 65 has increased by 1.91 point. Regarding the sex, men and women represent 51.27% and 48.73% of the total population.

Some believe that China will continue to grow for twenty years because it has an abundant labor and comparative advantages still exist. But with the arrival of new workforce and the aging of the current workforce, we need to make a transition in advance, that is to say, changing the mode of economic development.

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