He Qinglian: China’s population problem is overlooked in several key points

The release of China’s seventh census data has generated much criticism, most notably for the gross distortion of the data. The falsification of statistics in China is a systemic disease that has existed since the birth of the regime. Before family planning was criticized worldwide, population data was underreported and underreported, but now it has become a new problem in China’s demographic statistics. But the real crux of China’s population problem has been carried away by some discussants.

The flow of people from less economically developed areas to cities is not unique to China, but is a serious economic structural pathology.

I took a closer look at one of the issues that has been the focus of much criticism: in terms of population by province, it is clear that there are fewer people in the north and more in the east and fewer in the west, and some northern and western provinces are already experiencing negative population growth. The population structure is more uneven between regions. The northern and western provinces are already experiencing negative population growth.

China’s economy is more developed in the south than in the north, and more prosperous in the east than in the west. Population flows from less developed regions to relatively developed regions are the laws of population movement in a market economy, as they are all over the world. The fact that young adults from the declining northeast and the already underdeveloped west, especially the water-scarce northwestern desert areas, are not conducive to human survival, have been able to move to the south and east and survive is evidence of both the increased mobility of Chinese society and the fact that contemporary youth are better able to adapt to survive than their predecessors.

The same is true in the U.S. The flight from New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc. in recent years is a result of these Democratic states’ insistence on political correctness, such as the massive introduction of non-migration, high BLM activity, and too heavy taxes, resulting in the departure of many companies and the decline of the local economy, which naturally took away a population and a quality one at that.

The real serious problem is the highly dysfunctional economic structure of China’s less economically developed regions, many of which are not even financially self-sufficient. For example, in Foping County, Shaanxi Province, China, which has been recently hyped by the Chinese media, the resident population of the entire county is just over 8,000 people, but those working in government and public institutions are 2,194, and the number of pensioners in the county’s institutions is 2,991. the local revenue of the county is 39.43 million yuan in 2018 and 36.6 million yuan in 2019, and the fiscal expenditures for these two years are 800 million yuan , 797 million yuan, is a parasitic area that can not self-sufficient rely on the central government to feed the milk. The situation in Foping is rather extreme, but the lack of employment opportunities for local youth is a common phenomenon in remote counties of China.

For the above reasons, it is a serious-looking bogus issue to discuss the uneven distribution of China’s population. Due to differences in economic geography and the degree of economic development, no country in the world has a balanced distribution of its population in different regions. Only totalitarian countries like to control population movement and consider it normal to have a balanced distribution of population in different regions.

Ageing” worries with Chinese characteristics

According to the United Nations standard, a country or region is considered to be an aging society if the proportion of its elderly population exceeds 7%, and 14% is considered to be “moderately aging”. The United Nations has issued the World Population Prospects.

The United Nations has issued the World Population Prospects, the 2012 Revision, which predicts the aging population of the world in 2014, 2030 and 2050 respectively, and humanity is now in the middle stage of 2014-2030.

In 2014, China ranked 52nd with 14.4% of the aging population. In the same year, the population data of 96 countries were recorded, and there were 33 countries in the world with an aging population of more than 20%.

In 2030, China ranks 43rd out of the same 96 countries with an aging population of 23.8 percent of the total population. In that year, 14 countries in the world will have an older population of more than 30%, and only Malta and Slovenia are included in the developing world.

Most of the countries with higher aging than China are Western countries, but there are also Albania, Argentina and Montenegro Republic, but the ones ranked after China are basically developing countries.

The most serious aging problem is Japan, with 32.8% in 2014 and 37.5% in 2030. Japan and the European Union and other countries have solved their old age problem relatively well, but the percentage of the elderly population in these countries is much higher than that in China. This shows that China’s old-age problem is not a problem of an increasing aging population, but a problem of the old-age system, which is a political-cum-economic policy issue. Especially considering that there are about 77 million elderly people in rural areas, this group is almost completely without any social insurance (health insurance, pension), and the problem of having no support for the elderly is very serious.

Fewer children ≠ disappearing demographic dividend

Equating childbearing with a demographic dividend is easily disproven, and the data on the age structure of the population in 96 countries listed in World Population Prospects, the 2012 Revision, shows that the countries with high proportions of young people are those in Africa and the Middle East, where birth rates are out of control, and those in Asia, such as Brazil, Turkey, Colombia, Peru, South Africa, India The countries with the highest rates of youth unemployment are Brazil, Turkey, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Honduras, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan, Bangladesh, and many others.

The problem of childlessness is a big problem for families, and it is said that there are at least 2 million elderly people who have lost their children. Those who draw an equivalence between fewer children and a disappearing demographic dividend overlook the fact that the demographic dividend requires full employment of young people.

Since China’s reform and opening up, the influx of capital from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea in the 1990s, and its accession to the WTO in 2001 as the world’s factory, it was a period of rapid employment growth, and naturally, it was able to realize the demographic dividend. However, since the 2010s, as labor-intensive industries have gradually moved out of China, the status of the world’s factory has declined, youth employment has become increasingly difficult, and a large number of old people have emerged in both urban and rural areas, so the demographic dividend naturally cannot be realized.

To illustrate this problem, one only needs to compare the global youth unemployment rate to see what a special phenomenon China’s demographic dividend was during the golden decade of the Hu-Wen era.

Global youth unemployment is a problem that has been accumulating for more than two decades. Global Employment Trends for Youth, released by the International Labor Organization in October 2000, notes that the overall labor market participation rate for youth has shown a global downward trend over the 20-year period 1999-2019, dropping by about 12 percentage points from 53.1%, while the total youth population grew by 300 million during this period. In terms of regional differences, the labor market participation rate for youth in 2019 is highest in North America at 52.6 percent; lowest in North Africa and the Arab region at 27 percent; and 45.2 percent in East Asia, above the global average of 41.2 percent – note that, as noted, these are the regions with the lowest proportion of aging population regions, but these countries do not have many employment opportunities for their youth and have been the main source of refugee flows in Europe since 2015. This shows that a younger population age structure is only a condition for realizing the demographic dividend, but not a prerequisite.

With China’s status as the world’s factory no longer in place and the restructuring of the industrial chain on a global scale, combined with a modern industrial system that relies more on automated equipment and the quality of human capital, the decline in the quantity of the labor force caused by the declining birth rate of the young population is not the real concern, but rather the quality of the population.

As of today, China is still the world’s most populous country and the third largest exporter of migrants, with over 60% foreign dependence on major resources such as oil and 30% food imports. In a country with an extremely fragile material support system and a low level of international trust, it is important to avoid the Malthusian trap of population and treat its population rationally.