May 21, 2024
China's Rapid Aging Society: How it Undermines Beijing's Ambition to Become an Ascendant Power

China’s Rapid Aging Society: How it Undermines Beijing’s Ambition to Become an Ascendant Power


China’s rapid aging society poses a significant challenge to Beijing’s ambition of becoming an ascendant power. The country’s demographic shifts are undermining economic dynamism and creating a lack of robust social security and pension systems. This could potentially lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. The danger for Chinese leader Xi Jinping is that his pursuit of “national rejuvenation” ends in economic stagnation similar to that which has plagued Japan since the 1990s. In this article, we will explore how China’s aging population is affecting its economy and society, and the policies that have been implemented to address this issue

  • Rapid aging of society will undermine Beijing’s vision of becoming an ascendant power
  • Loss of economic dynamism will undercut the current cheap, labor-reliant development model
  • Lack of robust social security and pension system could lead to humanitarian catastrophe
  • Xi Jinping’s pursuit of “national rejuvenation” could lead to economic stagnation similar to Japan’s in the 1990s
  • Chinese leaders have adopted extreme policies in response to demographic concerns
  • 1970s: Communist leaders’ fears of an expanding population led to campaigns for later marriage, longer wait times between children, and fewer offspring overall
  • 1980: One-child policy implemented, resulting in mass forced abortions, sterilizations, and insertions of intrauterine devices
  • Unintended consequences of the one-child policy include steep gender imbalance, limited child-care support, and rising costs for having a large family
  • Local governments have adopted support measures to alleviate financial burdens, but more is needed
  • Economist Ren Zeping calls for immediate policies to encourage birth such as subsidies for childbirth, inclusion of fertility treatment in social insurance, and better guarantees of employment for women
  • Population is the most important and easily overlooked future issue facing China
  • Working professionals face fewer and less attractive job prospects as China’s decades of rapid economic growth come to an end
  • GDP grew by only 3% last year, as disruptions from “zero covid” policies and contraction of the real estate sector hurt consumption and employment rate is high among young unemployed could potentially lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.
  • While the Chinese government has implemented policies to address this issue, more needs to be done to encourage childbirth and provide better guarantees of employment for women. The population issue is the most important and easily overlooked future issue facing China, and will have a significant impact on the country’s economy and society. It is important for China’s leaders to take this issue seriously and take necessary steps to address it.

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