China’s Increasing Dependency Ratio
ON JANUARY 18th the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced that the number of working-age Chinese shrank last year by a total of 3.45m. In the slow-moving world of demography, that is a big turning point. The mobilisation of Chinese labour over the past 35 years has shaken the world. Never before has the global economy benefited from such an addition of extra human exertion. Now the additions are over
This is a two-edged sword for China. On the one hand fewer people of working age means that China will not need to maintain as high a growth rate to avoid massive unemployment as has been the case in the past.
On the other hand it’s an increasing dependency ratio for China as far as the eye can see under current policy. And, as I pointed out years ago in a post at my own place on Chinese demographics, women of working age, the very group in highest demand for the intricate assembly jobs in many Chinese factories making the electronic consumer goods that are fueling much of China’s exports, are also of child-bearing age. The number of women of working age is actually declining faster than the number of men of working age.