Population growth concerns

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, April 29, 2011
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An annual population growth rate of 0.57 percent in the last decade, or a net increase of 73.90 million people, points to the necessity of further maintaining the family-planning policy and keeping the country's population growth rate at a reasonable level.

The net increase in the population was 130 million from 1990 to 2000, 56 million more than in the 2001-2010 period. So it is clear that family planning has achieved a great deal.

Given its great population, China needs to continue the family-planning policy as its population will continue to grow over the next two decades before it peaks at a predicted1.5 billion.

The publication of detailed figures from the sixth national census on Thursday shows that the proportion of residents under 14 dropped by 6.29 percentage points in the last 10 years and those aged between 15 and 59 decreased by 1.91 percentage points.

During the same period, the number of people over the age 60 increased by 2.93 percentage points.

The increasingly heavier burden of an aging population is a product of the successful implementation of the family-planning policy.

At the same time, the rapid dwindling in the population under the age of 14 suggests that a lack of laborers will pose a threat to the country's economic growth in the near future.

It is definitely right for China to maintain a relatively low birth rate. Yet, the country cannot afford to see its population growth rate drop as sharply as it has in the past two decades.

If that becomes a reality, it will certainly negatively affect the government's financial capability to subsidize the care of its aged population, which will continue to grow in the coming decades. It would also exert a heavy pressure on the younger generation.

What the government cannot afford to ignore is the younger generation's attitude toward childbirth, which must also have contributed to the rapid decline in population growth in the past two decades.

It can take several decades for a population policy to show its effect. Therefore, fluctuations in the population size must be closely monitored in the coming years. In addition, studies and surveys are also needed to discover young people's attitudes toward having children.

Then the adjustments to be made in the family-planning policy will be soundly based on solid data as well as sensible analysis and prediction of the population development trend.

This demonstrates what President Hu Jintao was talking about when he said on Wednesday, that the population issue is complicated and deserves long-term concern.

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