Beijing: China’s high economic growth is set to slow in 2010 when the rising dependent population will cancel out the country’s “demographic dividend” which it has enjoyed since the mid-1960s, a World Bank global development report says.
The dependency ratio — the gap between the working population and those too young or old to work — in China was at its lowest in 1968, allowing the country to spend less on dependent groups and more on economic development.
China’s advantageous population structure has contributed to 27% of economic growth, a similar figure to that in Japan and Singapore, but a country’s demographic dividend usually lasts for 40 years until the ageing problem looms.
Official statistics show China currently has 144 million people who are over 60 years old, accounting for 11% of the 1.3 billion population.
But the number will reach 160 million in 2010, 200 million in 2015 and 400 million in 2044, which will result in huge pressures on the pension and healthcare systems.
“China has to invest more in education and training to raise productivity and steer its manufacturing industries to create high value-added products,” Xinhua news agency quoted an expert as saying.
“Otherwise, when the demographic dividend is over,” he said, “everything will slow down.”
From 1950 to 1980, China’s population exploded from 500 million to a billion, prompting the Communist Party-led government to initiate its strict family planning policy.
Demographers predict China’s population will reach 1.36 billion in 2010 and 1.45 billion in 2020, peaking at 1.5 billion around the year 2033.