THE number of people living in China is expected to reach a peak of 1.442 billion by 2029 before spiralling towards an “unstoppable” decline in 2030, a recent study found.
According to the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the world’s most populous country will be facing a declining labour force and a rapidly ageing population, requiring the government to draw up policies to cope with the phenomenon.
In its “Green Book of Population and Labour” report, the CASS said growth in the working population has stagnated and the rising number of the ageing population will have a far-reaching impact on social and economic development in the country, Reuters reported.
The challenges in addressing the ageing population will also be compounded if fertility rates remain low.
“From a theoretical point of view, the long-term population decline, especially when it is accompanied by a continuously ageing population, is bound to cause very unfavourable social and economic consequences,” the report said.
China’s population is expected to go downwards to 1.36 billion by the middle of the century, the report said, adding the workforce could fall by as much as 200 million.
It said the population could fall to 1.17 billion by 2065 if fertility rates remain unchanged.
In 2016, the country relaxed the controversial “one-child policy” aimed at limiting population growth, allowing all couples to have two children.
Despite the move, the country’s birth rate fell by 3.5 percent in 2017 and is estimated to have fallen again in 2018.
And for the first time in more than 30 years in 2011, the country’s “dependency rate” – made up of non-working citizens such as the children and elderly in the overall population – was widely predicted to increase over the span of decades.
According to the BBC, previous forecasts suggested China’s elderly population could hit 400 million by 2035, up from 240 million in 2017.