Friday, November 9, 2007

The graying of China

From AEI:

In the early 1970s, China's then-current childbearing patterns implied nearly five births per woman. At the start of the "one child policy" in 1979, China's total fertility rate was nearly three births per woman. Today, China's fertility rate is far below the "net reproduction rate"--by many estimates, just 1.7 births per woman nationwide. In some major population centers--Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin among them--the average number of births per woman today has fallen below one baby per lifetime.

This "success," however, comes with immense inadvertent costs and unintended consequences. Thanks to a decade and a half of sub-replacement fertility, China's working-age population is poised to peak in size, and then start to decline, more or less indefinitely, within less than a decade. A generation from now, China's potential labor force (ages 15-64) will be no larger than it is today, perhaps smaller. ...

China's age profile will "gray" in the decades ahead at a pace almost never before witnessed in human history. China is still a fairly youthful society today--but by 2030, by such metrics as median population age, the country will be "grayer" than the United States--"grayer," that is, than the U.S. of 2030, not the U.S. of today.


  1. Given this "graying" trend in China and the growing liabilities that are associated with nurturing an older population, do you think Beijing will be incentivized to reverse the "one child" policy?

    Can this long-term trend, if true, discredit the notion that the 21st century will belong to the Chinese "dragon" and begin to cool some of the over-enthusiastic sentiments about China usurping the mantle of power from the United States in the 21st century?

  2. Let's not forget the impending male domination of the Chinese population. With one child, in the Chinese culture sons are preferred.

  3. Oh and by the way.... the 1 child policy is also resulting in a lot of divorces now among the new Chinese yuppies. They just grew up not having to share the house with anyone.