How Can Aging China Restore Prosperity?
Qu Hongbing
DATE:  Jul 01 2024
/ SOURCE:  Yicai
How Can Aging China Restore Prosperity? How Can Aging China Restore Prosperity?

(Yicai) July 1 -- The improving quality of China's labor force will mitigate the adverse impact of population aging on economic growth due to a rising level of education in the next decade.

Many domestic and overseas experts say that China's population aging will definitely cause its expansion in gross domestic product to significantly slow down. For example, experts from the International Monetary Fund recently predicted the nation’s economic growth to drop to around 3 percent by 2030.

Intuitively speaking, it indeed is quite difficult for a declining number of workers to provide for a rising number of retirees. However, economic growth is a sum of boosts in the labor force and productivity. This is why a decrease in the number of workers, if not offset by an increase in productivity, will indeed result in a slowdown.

However, these concerns are overrated.

China's labor force will continue shrinking amid its aging population but the quality of workers will significantly improve due to new generations' enhanced nutrition and education levels. In other words, the nation's human capital will not decline but grow faster in the next 10 years, which is bound to lay a more solid talent foundation for scientific and technological innovation while synchronously promoting total factor and labor productivity.

Since 1950, the length of education of China’s working-age population (15 to 64 years of age) has been rising. It advanced to 8.3 years in 2010, up from 6.5 years in 1990, and is expected to surge to 9.9 years in 2030 and 10.9 years in 2040, according to Barro-Lee Educational Attainment Dataset and World Bank. The trend aligns with that of China's seventh population census.

From now to 2030, for every 10 employees with less than eight years of education who retire, 15 younger employees with more than 14 years of education will take their place, based on estimates. Thereby, China's human capital, which takes educational attainment into account, will accelerate growth in the next 10 years, laying a more solid foundation for sci-tech innovation and industrial upgrades.

China can boost the confidence of market players and drive its economy to return to healthy and sustainable growth with a rate of over 6 percent as long as the nation unswervingly advances market-oriented reforms and opens up to the rest of the world, sparing no effort to create a first-class market-oriented, law-based and international business environment.

(The author is the vice chairman of the China Chief Economist Forum and a former chief economist of HSBC China)

Editor: Emmi Laine

Follow Yicai Global on
Keywords:   Population,Economic Prosperity,China,aging society,economic growth,GDP