Zhou Tianyong, an economist from the Party School of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China, told the Global Times on Friday that China’s economic growth rate in 2015 was 6.9 percent, official figures indicated, the first time that the official rate has been below 7 percent in six years. According to his research, demographics play a major role.
Zhou said that a shrinking labor force led to the soaring of labor costs, which directly affects the country’s exports. Meanwhile, the aging population raises challenges for the country’s social security system.
He added that a fall in the working-age population would affect the country’s consumption, as well as leading to the decline of rigid demands such as houses and cars, and would further contribute to the surplus of cement, steel, and coal.
"If the country lacks industrial demand, exports, consumption, investment will definitely shrink, along with economic growth," said Zhou.
Zhou’s research found a strong correlation between economic and population growth between 1974 and 1994, leading him to predict more future pressures.
The number of people aged between 16 and 59 will decrease to 896 million in 2020 and 824 million in 2030, while the number of those aged 60 and over will grow to 253 million in 2020 and 365 million in 2030, according to new data provided by the Population and Development Studies Center at the Renmin University of China to the Global Times.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that in 2015, China’s working age population was 911 million and there were 222 million senior citizens.
Zhou’s opinion was echoed by Yi Fuxian, a long-term critic of China’s family planning policy and a scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, who warned that China has entered a "low fertility trap."
"China’s current demographic structure is severely distorted, as the country now faces problems such as low fertility, an aging society and gender imbalance. This may hinder economic development as well as social stability in the long run," said Mu Guangzong, a professor at Peking University’s Institute of Population Research.
However, Song Jian, a professor specializing in demographics at the Renmin University of China, said that China’s economic development mainly depends on economic restructuring and industrial policy adjustment.
"Compared to the quantity, the quality of population is more important. Many senior citizens are still participating in social activities," said Song.
demographics n. 人口统计资料
rigid adj. 严格的；僵硬的，死板的；坚硬的；精确的