An economic and social time bomb. In the same period, there will be more than 300 million pensioners while the working population paying their pensions shrinks. The government will raise the retirement age. Local leaders are calling for the abolition of limits on the number of children per couple.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - Within five years, China will lose 35 million adults of working age, which is slightly higher than the entire population of a country like Saudi Arabia: The decline that has not stopped since 2012.
The data was revealed yesterday at a press conference by Deputy Minister for Human Resources and Social Security You Jun.
In total, at the end of 2025 the Chinese over 60 years old, and therefore of retirement age, will exceed 300 million: more than 20% of the inhabitants. According to United Nations calculations, Beijing has little chance of reversing this course: over the next 30 years, the Chinese population of working age will shrink by 200 million; the country will find itself with 300 million more pensioners and fewer workers who will be able to pay their pensions: an economic and social time bomb.
The economic reforms of the last 40 years have raised the life expectancy of the Chinese to 77.3 years in 2019 (80 years in urban centers). Compared to the major world economies, where people retire around the age of 65, the threshold in China is much lower: between 50 and 60, limits that date back to the 1950s.
In an attempt to avoid the implosion of the pension system, You Jun announced that the government will raise the retirement age. The measure will be contained in the next five-year plan (2021-2025), which will be formally approved by the National People's Congress during its annual session in March. With a slowing economy, the decision does not, however, favor the entry of young people into the world of work, especially the many recent graduates.
Part of the Chinese leadership calls for solving the pension problem by abolishing the limits on the number of children per couple. The request comes mainly from the leaders of the provinces with the lowest fertility rate: Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang.
After 35 years of the "one child" policy, since 2015 every couple is allowed to have two children. In 2016, births at first increased, but then declined relentlessly.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, in 2020 there were 10.03 million newborns: the previous year there were 11.79 million. The figure is partial and concerns families registered in the "hukou" system, which binds access to social benefits to the place of official residence. The National Statistical Bureau will publish the official fertility rate in April, at the end of the national census.
According to several observers, it will be difficult to change the demographic course in China. This will put Xi Jinping's business plans at risk. The Chinese president aims to double the country's GDP and per capita income by 2035, and to overtake the US as the world's leading economy in 10 years.