China's economic growth is set to slow in 2010 when the
dependent population rises to a level that cancels out the
country's "demographic dividend", which has existed since the
mid-1960s, according to a recent World Bank global development
The dependency ratio - the gap between the working population
and those too young or old to work - in China was at its lowest in
1968, allowing the country to spend less on dependent groups and
more on economic development.
China's advantageous population structure has contributed to 27
percent of economic growth, a similar figure to that in Japan and
Singapore, but a country's demographic dividend usually lasts for
40 years until the aging problem looms.
Official statistics show China currently has 144 million people
who are over 60 years old, accounting for 11 percent of the 1.3
billion population. But the number will reach 160 million in 2010,
200 million in 2015 and 400 million in 2044, which will result in
huge pressures being exerted on the pension and healthcare
"China has to invest more in education and training to raise
productivity and steer its manufacturing industries to create high
value-added products," an expert advised on condition of
"Otherwise, when the demographic dividend is over," he said,
"everything will slow down."
From 1950 to 1980, China's population exploded from 500 million
to 1 billion, prompting the country to start its family planning
policy in the late 1970s.
(Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2007)