05/18/2021, 10.16
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Beijing, demographic crisis hastens need to end birth control

Experts and academics join the Central Bank in calling for an adjustment of the pension and social systems. The authorities aim for growth based on quality and not quantity of work.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The government must abandon birth control policies to halt the demographic slowdown, a threat to the country's growth and stability. The request comes from experts and academics and adds to that already formulated by the Central Bank. To cope with the progressive aging of the population, they also recommend an adjustment of the pension system.

On 11 May the National Statistical Office published the results of the national census. In 2020, the population exceeded 1.4 billion, but compared to 2019, new births fell by 18%: from 14.65 to 12 million, the lowest level in the last 60 years.

Young Chinese people do not want to have children: it costs too much and the state does not help them. Pregnant Chinese women give birth to 1.3 children each, far from the 2.1 needed to keep the population stable.

The figure is also lower than that of Japan (1.37 children per woman), one of the oldest countries in the world. Some researchers estimate that over the next 10 years the share of Chinese women aged 22 to 35 will decline by more than 30%.

It is the failure of the past one-child policy. His easing in 2016, with the possibility of having two children per family, has not changed the situation. According to the Central Bank, the "liberalization" of births must take place now that there are still couples who want to have more children: due to socio-economic dynamics, as has already happened in more developed countries, this could change in the future.

The numbers show that China is aging: a danger to the social stability of the country. The census reveals that between 2010 and 2020 the population of working age (between 16 and 59) fell by 40 million. Over 18% of Chinese are over 60 years old: they are people who do not work and have the propensity to save. According to a study published in 2019 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the government could run out of pension funds in 2035.

Central authorities have announced vague plans to hire retirement age. Over the weekend, the Central Bank revealed that it will test run private pension schemes in June.

However, in order to cope with the aging of the population and the decline in the number of people of working age, Chinese leaders are focusing on adapting and modifying the economic structure. National production will no longer have to be based on the quantity of work offered, but on the quality of the services. The goal requires efforts to improve productivity thanks to technological innovation and the strengthening of the education sector.

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