China's low fertility may not hinder future prosperity

Marois, G. ORCID:, Gietel-Basten, S., & Lutz, W. ORCID: (2021). China's low fertility may not hinder future prosperity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (40) e2108900118. 10.1073/pnas.2108900118.

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China’s low fertility is often presented as a major factor which will hinder its prosperity in the medium to long term. This is based on the assumed negative consequences of an increasing old-age dependency ratio: a simplistic measure of relative changing age structures. Based on this view, policies to increase fertility are being proposed after decades of birth restriction policies. Here, we argue that a purely age structure–based reasoning which disregards labor force participation and education attainment may be highly misleading. While fertility has indeed fallen to low levels, human capital accumulation has been very strong—especially among younger cohorts. Factoring in the effects of labor force participation and educational attainment on productivity, a measure called “productivity-weighted labor force dependency ratio” can more accurately capture the economic implications of demographic change. When using this ratio, a much more optimistic picture of the economic (and social) future of China can be envisaged.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: fertility; China; aging; human capital; dependency ratio
Research Programs: Population and Just Societies (POPJUS)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS) > Multidimensional Demographic Modeling (MDM)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS) > Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing (SHAW)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2021 12:41
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2023 05:01

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