Aging China: The Demographic Challenge to China's Economic Prospects

Aging China: The Demographic Challenge to China's Economic Prospects

Aging China: The Demographic Challenge to China's Economic Prospects

Aging China: The Demographic Challenge to China's Economic Prospects

Excerpt

It is difficult to find the right vantage point from which to appreciate the whole picture of an outsized country like China. Its vast lands, teeming population, rich and turbulent history, and varied cultures leave outsiders with much to learn, understand, and comprehend. It is even more difficult to assess the degree of progress China has made in its economic transformation: moving from a poor, stifling, Communist command economy to a major global player with an economy driven by private enterprise. The backdrop for this book—the advent of a period of rapid aging of the population that will redefine China—adds yet one more complicating shift to the big picture of China.

Between 2010 and 2040 the world’s most populous nation will enter a period of aging during which the portion of its people 65 and older will rise from approximately 7 percent to somewhere between 25 and 30 percent of its total population. In some cities, the elderly could make up between 33 percent and 50 percent of the population. As China grows old, can it retain the youthful dynamism now driving it?

China will age rapidly because of the one-child policy that began more than a generation ago. Although fertility had already started to decline by the late 1970s, the one-child policy that officially began in 1980 prompted a steady slide in total fertility rates to a level estimated at about 1.5 today. A total fertility rate of 1.5 means that, on average, each woman in China is having 1.5 children during her lifetime, based on the number of births occurring . . .

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