Fall of demographic dividends foreseeable in China

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 1, 2016
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Complaints about China's over-crowded living conditions may gradually disperse as the country undergoes a demographic structural change, consisting of an aging society and a diminishing labor force.

Demographic dividends are expected to stop growing as China's population is projected to slip to 1 billion by 2100, representing a fall of about 33 percent in less than a century, the China Business News reported Thursday.

Is a demographic crisis looming large?

Zheng Zhenzhen, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said at the latest panel discussion of Summer Davos 2016 in Tianjin that population growth in China will terminate at a certain pinnacle and fall to 1 billion by 2100, which was the country's population in 1980.

Her prediction was in line with a medium variant estimation by the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) that said that the population in China will drop to about 1 billion before the start of the new century.

However, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, the total fertility rate (TFR) in China hovered around 1.04 to 1.26 percent from 2010 to 2013, and a census conducted among one percent of the total population in 2015 concluded that TFR at that time was 1.25 across the country.

The research of Cai Fang, the Vice President of CASS, showed that the enormous demographic dividends have contributed 27 percent to the economy in the past three decades.

But nowadays the dividends have seen a foreseeable declining. Demographic researcher Yao Meixiong said China will experience a big fall in the population of children, a rapid rise in the proportion of elderly citizens and an unbalanced gender distribution among people at the marriageable age, all of which will probably lead to a shortage in the labor supply, weaker consumption and innovation capabilities, and inadequate propulsion for the national economy.

Zhou Tianyong, the Deputy Dean of the International Strategic Research Institute of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said, "The rapid decline in population growth rates, the trend of baby bust, the contraction of the 22 to 44-year old labor force, and the rapid aging of the society, may result in a wave of downward movement in the national economy as well as a middle-income trap featuring a population trap, which is different from the situation in other countries."

Huang Wenzheng, a demographer from the University of Wisconsin in the United States, estimated that China's population will fall far below 1 billion in the new century and says that the figure could be as low as 600 million.

Experts highlighted the need for far-sighted policies for dealing with demographic contraction.

When interviewed by the People's Daily, a person in authority said that China will be able to maintain a stable employment rate even in time of considerable downward economic movement, as the country presses ahead with economic restructuring.

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