SCIO briefing on 7th National Population Census

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What effect will the gradually declining working-age population and the expanding aging population have on economic development in the long run? What measures will be taken to tackle those problems? Will it be possible to relax policies to encourage fertility? Thank you.

Ning Jizhe:

This question is about the working-age population. I will invite Mr. Zeng to answer this question.

Zeng Yuping:

Thank you for your question. As for the issue of the aging population, Mr. Ning introduced it in detail just now. I will not repeat those points.

Concerning the working-age population, first, in terms of the total number, the working-age population (people aged between 16 and 59) decreased by more than 40 million compared to 2010, when China conducted the sixth national population census. But we should remember that the total population of working-age people, 880 million, is still large, and labor resources are still abundant. Dividends in the demographic still exist, which provides an important support for sustained and healthy social and economic development.

Second, the quality of the working-age population has been remarkably improved. As the census data shows, the average number of years of education received by the population aged above 15 was 9.91, up 0.83 years from 2010. Specifically, the average number of years of education received by the population aged from 16 to 59 reached 10.75 years, up 1.08 years from 9.67 years in 2010. Meanwhile, among the working-age population, people with high school education and above reached 385 million, accounting for 43.79% of the total, up 12.8 percentage points from 2010. Finally, people with university education and above accounted for 23.61%, up 11.27 percentage points from 2010.

Third, as the social and economic development accelerates, the coverage of medical service systems has expanded, people's overall physical health has improved and life expectancy has been extended. The improvement in people's health conditions has greatly bolstered labor resources, which underpins the social and economic development.

The decrease in the working-age population should be viewed comprehensively and objectively. First, despite the shrinking working-age population, the sheer size of China's labor resources remains relatively large.On the whole, China is still facing great employment pressure. Second, although the working-age population is gradually decreasing, the high-quality development of the economy means that the requirements for employees' skills will increase. Improving the skills of workers and solving the structural problem of the mismatch between job requirements and candidates' skills will become the main issue facing employment. Third, as the quality of the population improves, the demographic dividend will gradually turn into a talent dividend, and the advantages of population resources will be effectively brought into play. This will further promote the transformation of the economic development pattern, the upgrading of the industrial structure, the increase of total factor productivity, and the sustained, coordinated, and healthy development of the population, economy, and society. Thank you.

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