It’s highly probable China will face the same “geriatric” economic conditions that already threaten Japan and several Western European countries: too few workers paying the pensions of retirees as well as shouldering their medical costs. By 2030, the median age in China will rise to 43. In 1980, the median was 23. In 2011, China had 925 million workers. By 2050, China’s working-age population will fall by 225 million, about 23 percent of the projected population. Between 2040 and 2050, 25 percent of the population will be over 65 years old, retired and drawing pensions. The “squeezed” worker cohort must then support both pensioners and dependent young.
Technologists theorize increased automation may mitigate the worker shortage, but it won’t solve it.
Wealth exacerbates China’s government-inflicted conundrum. Worldwide, prosperous and educated couples tend to have fewer children. This trend applies to China.
Increasing wealth and personal lifestyle preferences played key roles in the fertility rate decline in Japan and highly developed Western countries. Japan’s fertility rate is 1.4 children per woman. A recent study suggested that circa 2080 the Italian and German populations could decline by 50 percent. The same trend has begun to affect wealthy South Korea.
Choice is one thing. However, China’s dictatorship relied on government intimidation and physical coercion to cut the birthrate. Concerned about overpopulation, Beijing used political stigmatization, stiff fines, compulsory sterilizations, abortions and infanticide to enforce the one-child policy.
Related: Choose Life.