We recently discussed the demographic crises in Japan, South Korea, and parts of Europe. In the close vicinity of both Japan and South Korea, is another nation that is unprepared for the sudden shrinkage of its working class population.
“It’s a society where nobody wants to get married and people can’t afford to have children,” said Wang Feng, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine. “On a deeper level, you would have to think about what kind of society China will become, not just demographically, but socially.”
… Dong Chang, a 28-year-old administrative employee at a dentist’s clinic in Beijing, said millennials like her enjoyed spending on themselves without batting an eyelid and would find it hard to sacrifice their wants for a child.
“We are all only children, and to be honest, a little selfish,” she said. “How can I raise a child when I’m still a child myself? And take care of him and feed him at midnight?”
… Melody Lin, a 26-year-old worker at a nonprofit, said she couldn’t think of a reason to have a child. She said she had thought about conforming to societal norms and starting a family but decided against it after reading arguments that not all women need to have children.
“My parents think that I’m still young and will change my mind when I get older, but I think it’s unlikely,” she said.
… The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said last year that China’s population contraction would begin in 2027. Others believe it will come sooner or has already begun. The accuracy and completeness of China’s population figures, like other sensitive statistics, have been questioned for years, making exact projections and comparisons difficult.
The global economic regime has come to depend upon a “China stimulus,” especially nations with heavy raw materials or high technology exports to China. China has come to depend upon large numbers of low-wage working-age Chinese, to spark its decades-old import/export binge. But as China’s working-age population has already begun to decline, the wages being demanded by workers have begun to ramp upward.
Just as bad, some of China’s main trading partners are beginning to question some of China’s trading methods. As rumbles of discontent with China reverberate across the commercial world, expect the underlying complications to add up for Beijing.
China now has a huge, capable population. It is not in danger of running out of people so much as it is in danger of running out of enough working-age people to sustain the hard-fought-for high ranking of China on the world economic stage.
The fall in the birthrate is likely to accelerate as the number of young women of childbearing age is expected to drop sharply.
Meanwhile, the population is aging due to greater longevity. According to the announcement on Friday, the number of people over age 65 reached 12.6% of the total population at the end of 2019, 0.7 percentage point up from the previous year.
This could all come to an unhappy climax if China is forced to play by international rules in its overseas trading policies. Beijing has bribed a lot of foreign journalists, politicians, and businessmen to stay silent on China’s abusive trade regime. But just as in the collapse of the Soviet empire in the late 1980s and early 1990s, China’s house of cards is subject to being downgraded to a pile of cards if the dragon loses favorable air currents.