Aging factory – on China’s population decline

Source– The post is based on the article “Aging factory” published in The Hindu on 21th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS1- Population and associated issues

Relevance– Issues related to population planning and control

News– The article explains declining population in China and its impact on Chinese economy

What are some facts and statistics about the declining population of China?

China’s population declined by 8,50,000 in 2022. Births in China last year dropped by more than 10% to 9.56 million.

China has been making efforts to boost birth rates that have been declining since the government introduced a harsh “one-child policy” in 1980. The belated introduction in 2016 of a “two-child policy” was not successful.

How is the declining population impacting the Chinese economy?

China’s economy is already feeling the impact of demographic change. The 16-59 working age population in 2022 was 875 million. It is a decline of around 75 million since 2010.

Wages are rising. Labour-intensive jobs are moving out, predominantly to Southeast Asia.

The above-60 population has increased. The number of elderly will peak by 2050 at 35% of the population. China’s National Working Commission on Ageing estimates spending on health care for the elderly will take up 26% of the GDP by 2050.

China is on track to follow Japan’s example of a prolonged period of a shrinking workforce with declining growth. The proportion of child and elderly populations in China as of 2020 was similar to Japan’s in 1990. Moreover, China reached this inflection point faster.

What are lessons for India?

India’s proportion of child and elderly population in 2020 was similar to China’s in 1980. It was the time when its economic boom started in China.

That was made possible only by taking advantage of demographic dividend by investing heavily in health care and education.


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