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

By Robert Stowe England | Go to book overview

3
China’s Economy and
Aging Society

Aging will be an obstacle to China’s progress toward key national goals because of the demographic expectation that China will face a 30-year period of rapid aging beginning in 2010. China will age before it becomes even a moderately developed country and before it produces a significant middle class.1 After 2020, the potential burdens of sustaining the elderly population will be substantial and will absorb resources that might otherwise be available to the working population.

A fair assessment of the impact of aging on China’s economy depends on understanding the factors that are driving China’s economic growth and its gains in per capita income. In 1980 the GDP was 451.7 billion yuan ($264.9 billion).2 In 2003 the economy grew at a brisk 9.1 percent and reached 11.67 trillion yuan ($1.409 trillion).3 Per capita income rose from 460 yuan ($269) in 1980 to $1,090 in 2003.4 Thus, while the economy grew by 5.31 times, per capita GDP grew by 4.05 times (figure 3.1). At the Sixteenth Party Congress in November 2002, Premier Jiang Zemin forecast that by 2020 China’s economy would nearly quadruple yet again to 35 trillion yuan ($4.2 trillion), and per capita income would rise by a similar amount.

Despite China’s enormous progress in achieving economic growth and raising living standards since the reform era began in 1978, annual per capita income remained at $1,090 in 2003.5 It varies widely among the provinces, from a low of $165 in Guizhou Province to a high of $1,330 in Shanghai, according to a

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Aging China: The Demographic Challenge to China's Economic Prospects
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1 - Introduction and Overview 1
  • 2 - Demography Shapes the Society 13
  • 3 - China’s Economy and Aging Society 34
  • 4 - China’s Social Service Programs 78
  • 5 - An Aging China in a Global Economy 109
  • Select Bibliography 121
  • Index 129
  • About the Author 137
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