Wang Haidong, director of China’s National Health Commission’s Department of Aging and Health, announced demographic studies on Tuesday that showed China will be a “seriously aging society” by 2035, with 30 percent of its huge population over 60 years old.
China’s state-owned company Global times quoted Wang, who said the communist regime is under “great pressure to face the aging scenario” as the “elderly dependency ratio” is about to skyrocket, reaching its peak around 2050.
In other words, as with many other industrialized nations — but on a massive scale and faster — China is reaching the point where longer life spans and collapsing birth rates mean there aren’t enough young workers to cover the cost of caring for retirees.
Wang went out of his way to assure reporters that China has enough resources to deal with its elderly for now, though he made it seem like his government didn’t care so much for them as it cared for them:
Talking about the development of elderly care, Wang said that as of 2021, the pension system covered 1.03 billion and health insurance covered 1.36 billion of the total population of 1.4. Long-term care services are being developed in 49 cities, covering 145 million people.
In the first quarter of 2022, there were 8 million beds in 360,000 care centers and more than 1.75 million beds in medical care centers nationwide.
More than 40,000 learning centers have been established for the elderly to study, while cultural facilities and tourist sites are open to them for free or at discounted prices to encourage the elderly to participate in recreational activities, Wang said.
Wang said the regime will “implement national strategies for the situation and find a unique path to deal with it,” but so far none of its remedies have worked to stop China’s demographic collapse.
Alarm bells started ringing several years ago, when Chinese health experts started project net population decline by 2025, and a few postulated Negative population growth may have already occurred in some regions.
In July this year, leading demographer Huang Wenzheng said negative growth “will be the dominant trend for a long time”, describing it as “an inevitable consequence of a long period of low fertility”.
Huang noted that previous dire predictions of demographic decline may have underestimated how quickly new births would decline. China Posted the lowest birth rate in its modern history last year, possibly because the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns made it harder than ever for people to date, and the terrified population lost any remaining enthusiasm for having children.
China first relaxed its infamous “one-child policy” of mandatory contraception and abortions, then started actively encouraging citizens to have two children, then realized that the difficult math of population growth means even larger families will be needed.
Chinese officials have made an effort to dispel the feeling, developed by young professionals, in China and many other societies around the world, that having children is too expensive and frustrates young parents’ career aspirations. One of China’s techniques in this direction was to: impose strict controls on the price of private lessons, which saw upwardly mobile parents as an expensive necessity for their children to succeed.
China pumped out propaganda to encourage having multiple children and offered expectant parents offer a whole range of incentives, from tax breaks and home loans to childcare grants and insurance. None of this seems to work as well as demographers had hoped.
China will still have a lot of people in 2035 or 2050, and while the declining ratio of young workers to older people is tough, it shouldn’t be catastrophic for a country as prosperous as China claims to be.
The big problem is that China’s dreams of world economic dominance depend entirely on having a huge supply of workers, and it looks like they won’t be showing up for work in the necessary numbers in two or three decades.
Human capital is simply indispensable to sustain the explosive growth required by China’s 21st-century agenda, especially when abundant cheap labor is such an important part of Beijing’s export strategies. China’s military ambitions require both soldiers and industrial workers to produce high-tech munitions.
As Foreign policy As noted in July, if current forecasts for both provinces hold, China will reach the end of this century with about half the population of India. Meanwhile, the US is grappling with its own demographic decline, but it’s much less severe than China’s right now, and Americans’ vastly higher per capita income means that China’s dream of becoming the world’s top economy will likely only last a few years. will last, if at all.