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Report: Population Decline to Hurt China’s Competiveness

Report: Population Decline to Hurt China’s Competiveness

Posted November. 27, 2009 08:31,   


China should brace for a declining population and change its one-child policy to keep its competitiveness, a Chinese newspaper said yesterday.

The Economic Information Daily published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency said the country’s population growth is plunging due to the one-child policy implemented in 1979. The number of those aged 14 and under began declining from 1995, it added.

China’s population growth was relatively high at 1.56 percent in 1975, but dropped below one percent in 1998. From last year, it declined to less than 0.5 percent.

The number of those aged 14 and under, a barometer of future population growth, peaked in 1995 at 334 million but declined to 252 million last year, down 24.6 percent over a 10-year period.

China’s population rose from 1.14 billion in 1990 to 1.3 billion in 2005 before falling to 1.32 billion last year. Consistent population growth is why Beijing has stuck to its one-child policy.

India’s population growth threatens to challenge China’s, however. India took the top spot from China in the number of those aged 14 and under in 1990. According to statistics from the U.N. Population Division, China had 324.1 million people aged 14 or under in 1990, lower than India’s 326.4 million.

If this trend continues, India will grow economically more competitive than China in 15 years, when those under age 14 become economically active, according to China experts. The economically active population between the ages of 15 and 59 in India is expected to surpass China’s in 2025 at the latest and be 244 million larger than China’s in 2050.

Hu Angang, an economics professor at Tsinghua University in China, said, “China will face the two demographic challenges of a rapidly declining and rapidly aging population over the long term,” adding, “The government should urgently adopt a two-child policy.”

The U.N. Population Division predicts that people aged 60 or above will account for 16.7 percent of China’s population in 2020 and 31.1 percent in 2050, higher than the expected world average of 21.9 percent.

The Chinese daily, however, downplayed fears over securing sufficient resources in the face of an increasing population, saying, “This will not be a big problem since we can secure resources from overseas.”