China’s Economy Could Be Derailed By Its Growing Number Of Grey Hairs
Across the world, young women are putting off marriage and childbirth due to cost of living pressures. The phenomenon, however, is relatively more acute in China where the population shrank by 850,000 last year, representing the first decline in more than 50 years.
Cici’s story is not unique. The 27-year-old doesn’t want to have a baby until she is at least 35. While her mother is putting pressure on her to “have a stable life”, the millennial’s busy job at a company in Beijing is hardly leaving her with enough time to think about starting a family.
About 14% of China’s population is now over 65. The deepening demographic crisis is set to introduce a series of serious problems to the country’s economy. In fact, a number of economists fear China will get old before it gets rich.
According to the World Bank, a high-income country is one where the gross national income per person is more than $13,845. Although China has witnessed a substantial growth in income per person in the 21st century, the figure had only reached $12,850 in 2022.
Beijing’s Seemingly Ineffective Attempts At Reversing Demographic Trend
The Chinese government is well aware of the crisis. In 2016, it abandoned the one child policy, replacing it with what is now a three child limit. Some provinces have abandoned restrictions on family-sizes altogether, among a raft of measures to encourage women to have more babies.
There are now discounts on IVF and cash subsidies for second and third babies, with newlyweds allowed up to 30 days of paid holiday. However, these incentives have made little difference as authorities fail to address the real reasons behind women delaying marriages.
Cici says she wants to reach “career stability” before starting a family. Her and her boyfriend need to save up to $270,000 to purchase a property in Beijing. As long as young people feel like the sums don’t add up on having children, China’s workforce will continue to shrink.
Suggestions about raising the retirement age have prompted public outcry. While men can retire at 60, for women it is 55, or 50 for blue collar workers. This year state media said Beijing was working on plans to raise the age, without specifying when this would happen.