Monday, October 01, 2007

China's aging population

David Seaton's News Links
An aging population is a problem, but it is also a sign of other more positive factors: it show that less children are needed because infant mortality is low and fewer need be born in order to reach adulthood and that women are educated and can thus control how many babies they have. It shows that general health and medical services are good and thus people live longer.

It is safe to infer that good health and education services are the product of an educated and energetic populace.

A low birthrate and a large number of older people shows a society where there has been a great improvement in health and educational services in only a few generations.
Obviously, if fewer babies are born in developed countries, in only a few generations the problem will have solved itself. The old people will gradually die off and there will be fewer younger people to replace them, but better educated and more productive.

In the article I quote below, Niall Ferguson gives India's 46% population increase by 2050 as a plus for India. Really? What sort of education will they have? How healthy and energetic will they be? What kind of contribution will they be able to make?

No matter how much it "shrinks", China, where education is not confined only to the upper castes as in India, will surely have a huge mass of literate people by 2050.
As one observer put it, "if you are one in a million in China, there are a thousand like you". There are more "honor students" in China than normal students in the USA. The most probable outcome will be that by 2050 there will be a lot of young Africans and Indians doing unskilled jobs in China and paying into the Chinese social system. I wouldn't count the Chinese out, not just yet. DS

Niall Ferguson: Will an aging population defang China? - Los Angeles Times
Abstract: The rise of China is the single most important historical phenomenon of our time. A fifth of humanity is on the march -- or, rather, behind the wheel. Yet there is a need to look closely at Chinese power before concluding that it is all over for the West and our dreams of a free world with a stable climate. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the environmental damage China is inflicting on itself in the breakneck dash for industrialized wealth. Now let's consider the demographic side of the story. On close inspection, China's population of 1.3 billion may not be as big a source of power as many commentators assume. According to U.N. projections, the world population will increase from 6.5 billion to 9.2 billion between now and 2050. But China will account for just 4% of that increase. The most rapid growth will be elsewhere. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Muslim world, the population will more than double; India's will be up 46%; and the United States, up by more than a third. India's population will overtake that of China around 2025. As well as ceasing to be the world's most populous country, China will become almost as elderly a society as Europe. Today, less than 8% of China's population is 65 or older. By 2050, that proportion could rise to as high as 24%. The equivalent figure for Europe is 28%, and for the U.S., 21%. In sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, the proportion will rise from 3% to less than 6%. READ IT ALL

1 comment:

RLaing said...

I don't expect China's aging population to be a problem, either. I think the problems for them are going to come from the falling water table and climate change.