According to the ‘Green Book of Population and Labor‘ published by the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on Friday, growth in China’s working population has stagnated. Meanwhile, the country’s “dependency rate” (the population of non-working people including children and the elderly) is predicted to increase for decades to come in a trend which will have a far-reaching socioeconomic impact on the world’s most populous country.
“From a theoretical point of view, the long-term population decline, especially when it is accompanied by a continuously aging population, is bound to cause very unfavorable social and economic consequences,” the CASS report states.
By mid-century, China’s population is expected to fall to 1.36 billion, with a consequent drop in the workforce of roughly 200 million. If fertility rates remain in or around current levels, the population could drop as low as 1.17 billion by 2065, the report warns.
“For the Chinese population, the most important demographic event in the first half of the 21st century is without a doubt the arrival of the era of negative population growth,” the report’s authors added.
The country’s birth rate fell by 3.5 percent in 2017 despite an end to the highly controversial “one-child policy.” However, this policy shift, in combination with a rising proportion of retirees thru 2060 will further exacerbate the dependency rate: at present, China’s elderly population is projected to reach 400 million by the end of 2035.