Population Growth in China?

Published on Author Mike

Demographics: the latest cohort in China is the smallest since 1960…from a rejoinder by Brad DeLong to a silly mistake by Thomas Friedman of the NYTimes, who compared China, India and Egypt without bothering to look at data…

If you expand the graph [click on it!] you’ll see that the biggest cohort is in their late 30s hence born during 1966-1970, the first part of the Cultural Revolution. (The next cohort, again children of the cultural revolution, is only slightly smaller.) Fertility fell even before the nationwide implementation of limitations on the number of children. Now the female cohorts of prime childbearing age are already smaller, born since 1980. So we have below-replacement [TFR=2.1] fertility of a below-replacement generation. That implies (i) china’s total population will shrink with 100% certainty and (ii) it will age rapidly as the population pyramid will become inverted, few children lots of older folks.

6 Responses to Population Growth in China?

  1. In Country Driving, a Chinese man discussed how in light of Hurricane Katrina the US valued life so much more in terms of numbers. The gentleman suggested that even the loss of 100 million Chinese would not affect daily life greatly, perhaps benefit life. From an economic output situation I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong, fewer workers means higher prices for labor and therefore higher standards of living to a certain degree for the working class. The demographics battle in the United States could become an issue as well. Demographics expert Mark Stein asserts that the only reason America is at 2.1 is because of foreign and mainly Mexican born children especially as marriage rates fall and married couples wed later than previously.

    • There’s good analysis of the Black Death in the 14th century, which killed far more than the 7% that 100 million Chinese would represent.

  2. Although a smaller Chinese population may not affect daily life greatly from an economic standpoint, it will greatly affect family dynamics. As a result of single family homes, once the only child grows up, he/she will have to take care of his/her parents and grandparents alone. This burden could be alleviated greatly if families were able to have more than one child.

    • Why should China remain in the nasty dark ages of human history where children were the only means of providing for the future? From the 1960s collectives in China provided for retirement, delinking having children and surviving into old age. The dismantling of the collectives did in that system, and the government is explicit that it seeks to develop a national pension system to address this issue.

  3. I would be curious to see how this graph compares to a similar study on the population of US males and female age distribution.