In the future Chinese will live and study longer, use a lot less energy and spend a much smaller proportion of their incomes on food.
That is the picture for 2050 painted in the Outline for China's Sustainable Development. The 20-volume publication consists of research reports, analysis and the predictions of 184 senior scientists, sociologists and policy researchers mainly from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
According to the study, published recently by Beijing-based Science Press, average life expectancy will be 85 in 2050. The figure is currently 71.8.
And the development outline indicates that by 2050 the average schooling period will have increased from the current 8.2 years to 14.
Other topics relate to population, food, energy, resources, ecology and the environment.
The Engel Coefficient will be kept below 0.15 and the Gini Coefficient between 0.35 and 0.40, according to the report.
The Engel Coefficient is an index calculating the proportion of money spent on food in overall consumption. The lower it is the more a country is developed. The figure at present is 0.37 for urbanites and 0.45 for rural residents in China.
The Gini Coefficient is an internationally-used index evaluating the equality of income distribution. A figure higher than 0.40 indicates a significant wealth gap.
There is no official figure for China's Gini Coefficient but it's widely estimated by scholars and international organizations such as the World Bank at more than 0.40.
If China achieves sustainable development energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) will decrease by 15 to 20 times, the report says.
Last year the central government set a target of cutting energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 percent over the next five years. This means a 4 percent reduction annually. However, the goal was not realized in 2006.
But Lu Yongxiang, CAS president and editor-in-chief, said the goals were scientific and realistic. They'd been carefully measured by researchers and could be shifted to suit government priorities, Lu said at a news conference.
However, China had to overcome many barriers, said Niu Wenyuan, executive editor-in-chief of the report and CAS' chief scientist for sustainable development.
The biggest challenges included the huge population, limited energy and resources, deteriorating environment, the widening urban-rural gap and a lack of social equality.
To overcome these issues Niu said China should maintain rational economic growth and the government make sure growth is focused on meeting the basic needs of ordinary people.
(China Daily February 12, 2007)