Wednesday, February 5, 2020

"China Issues New Plan to Address Aging Population"

No, not the coronavirus.
Although, thinking about it, one of the updates that Global Times is putting out read:
1:23 am Feb 5
The average age of patients died of novel coronavirus infection in epicenter Wuhan is 68, while average age of confirmed cases is younger in other places.
Our story is from the U.S. Army's Mad Scientist Laboratory [still not the coronavirus but...]:
[Editor’s Note: Today’s post, excerpted from this month’s OE Watch, addresses China’s new plan to redress its most pressing socio-economic predicament — a declining population of working age citizens (the legacy of its national “One-Child Policy”) who must simultaneously care for an aging population while trying to stem a decline in real economic growth (down from a high of 14.3% in 2007 to a reported 6.1% last year). As previous guest bloggers Collin Meisel and Dr. Jonathan D. Moyer, from the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, have observed in On Hype and Hyperwar, how our near-peer adversary tackles this persistent, declining trend is just as relevant to future warfighters preparing for competition and conflict in the operational environment as is artificial intelligence, quantum computing, or any other potential game changing technology. How China resolves this issue will determine if it will surpass Russia as our most capable threat in the latter half of the Era of Accelerated Human Progress (now through 2035) — Read on!]
China Population Pyramid – 2018 / Source: The World Factbook, CIA,
China’s government is issuing a new plan to address population aging. While many countries’ population growth have begun to slow down, China’s aging is on track to be particularly dramatic. In 2016, over 230 million Chinese were over 60, and that number is expected to rise to 487 million (35% of the population) by 2055. As explained in the translated readout of the new Plan, the Chinese Communist Party and State Council view population aging as having a direct impact on every aspect of the Chinese economy and China’s “comprehensive national power.” The plan sets deadlines for developing a framework for dealing with population aging by 2022, instituting the policies by 2035, and having complete and mature policies in place by 2050.
Despite strong economic growth since the 1980s, China’s government and economy will likely have trouble when faced with slowing growth and rising healthcare and pension costs. China’s total debt ratio to GDP hit a record high in the summer of 2019, topping 300 percent for the first time, a consequence of lending that helped fuel its economic growth.
“Please for the sake of your country, use birth control” — Government sign found in Nanchang (Tangshan Village, De’an County, Jiujiang, Jiangxi) / Source: China One Child Policy, by Lori Scott via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
China loosened the One-Child Policy in January 2016, but the new two-child policy and financial incentives appear to have limited success. High costs of living, and pressure from educational and work cultures and other factors have disincentivized new parents from having multiple children, so the Chinese government will have to take steps to avoid further problems.
The Plan, therefore, lays out five areas of action: First, social security funds for retirees are to be consolidated and expanded. Second, promote more effective pre-natal screening and education to create a high-quality population. Third, create a high-quality system of services and products for the elderly, with an emphasis on better health care, including preventative care. Fourth, refocus scientific and technological development to address population-aging related issues. The fifth section notes that additional work is needed to ensure legal frameworks to protect the elderly, which have increasingly been the target of various scams and other crimes in China. As emphasized in the fourth directive, Chinese leaders understand that population aging will have a significant impact on the economy. While the service industry now makes up over 50 percent of the economy, many sectors will likely see shortfalls in workers, requiring prompt investment in automation and other smart technologies to increase productivity while reducing reliance on workers. Educating the workforce, and reforms to the mandatory retirement age could allow workers to defer retirement.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative / Source: Lommes via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
Interestingly, the article ends with a note that China plans to use international cooperative agreements, particularly the Belt and Road Initiative to help address population aging. While this includes cooperation in scientific studies and sharing lessons on effective policies, it is possible that China may seek to encourage migration to help reduce the domestic burden of the elderly—something that appears to be happening informally already. End OE Watch Commentary (Peter Wood)....