China’s Aging Population, Gender Imbalance Will Have Long-Lasting Social, Economic Impact: Experts

December 7, 2020 Updated: December 7, 2020

Some Chinese researchers have recently sounded the alarm on China’s declining birth rate, aging population, and severe gender imbalance, as the skewed demographics are set to exacerbate social problems.

The irregularities are an after-effect of the Chinese regime’s one-child policy. Introduced in 1979, the restriction was implemented as part of population control measures as Beijing became worried about the rapidly growing population putting a strain on the country’s resources.

Due to the preference of males over females in Chinese culture, especially in rural areas where men can contribute manual labor, many families chose to abort or abandon female newborns.

This has resulted in a skewed gender ratio. In 1990, the ratio first exceeded 110 boys per 100 girls, and has never dropped from this rate since. In the early 2000s, the ratio reached 120 to 100. Today, the ratio is still above 110.

Official data shows that there were 20 million Chinese bachelors in 2015, while only 6 million women were unmarried. The bachelor crowd has since grown and is currently around 30 million.

State-run newspaper China News Weekly cited experts’ estimates that China will have over 40 million unmarried men by 2040.

Yang Ge, a researcher at the state-run China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), warned that the high disparity could lead to “marital pressure, sex trafficking, sex crimes, and similar social problems.”

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A baby swims in a bath at a private maternity hospital in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province on March 12, 2020. (Getty Images)

Negative Population Growth

Couples are also choosing not to have children, leading to a declining fertility rate in China.

Though the Chinese regime loosened its one-child policy in 2014 and began to allow couples to have two children, the birth rate is still low due to the high cost of raising a child for the average household.

“At present in our country, women of childbearing age have low willingness to have children due to many reasons. The fertility rate has fallen below the warning line and population development has entered a critical turning period,” Chinese state-run Yicai quoted China’s civil affairs minister Li Jiheng as saying.

Li said that due to the falling birth rate, the country’s population would have negative growth soon, but he did not give a timeframe, according to the report.

State-run newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Nov. 12 that the China Population and Development Research Center at the governmental National Health Commission released a study in which it estimated that the country’s birth rate will match the death rate in 2027—meaning the population will reach its peak and then begin to shrink.

The latest statistics shows the country has 1.4 billion people.

The estimate is three years sooner than the previous calculation. In January 2017, the Chinese regime estimated that the country would have negative population growth in 2030.

CASS researcher Yang Ge said it was possible negative population growth could arrive sooner than 2027, in an interview with China News Weekly.

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A man prays on the eve of the annual “Qingming” festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, at a cemetary in Dagantangcun, 30km east of Beijing, China on April 4, 2015. (Fred Dufour/AFP via Getty Images)

Population Aging

The skewed demographics has also led to population aging.

CASS researcher Li Jun said at a seminar in Beijing in November: “In our country, the population of 60-year-olds and older is larger than the population of 15-year-olds and younger. In fact, our country has entered the era of less youth and more seniors.”

In 2020, the official estimated life expectancy was 77.1 years old in China.

China News Weekly cited the China Population and Development Research Center in a recent report, noting that China’s senior population (60 and above) would increase by 11.5 million every year from 2021 to 2025, and will reach 500 million by 2048.

Frank Xie, business professor at the University of South Carolina Aiken, said that the burden of paying for the elderly’s pensions and healthcare would take a toll on the Chinese economy.

According to Beijing-based think tank China Center for International Economic Exchanges, about 38 percent of seniors 60 or older have partly or totally lost their ability to care for themselves and need assistance.

The society will also have a lack of laborers as the population ages.

A professor at China’s Fudan University Peng Xizhe told China News Weekly in a Nov. 29 report that the regime may have to raise the retirement age in order to ease the economic burden.

The current retirement age for men is 60. On Dec. 7, the Chinese regime raised the retirement age for women from 50 or 55 (the former for manual laborers, the latter for white-collar workers) to 60.