China's looming worker shortage threatens economy
BEIJING (AFP) - China's demographic timebomb is ticking much louder with the first fall in its labour pool for decades, analysts say, highlighting the risk that the country grows old before it grows rich.
The abundant supply of cheap workers in the world's most populous nation has created unprecedented cost efficiencies that underpinned its blistering economic expansion over the past 35 years, propelling the global economy forward.
But now the inexorable consequences of the one-child policy imposed in the late 1970s are beginning to appear, and threaten to impact its future growth.
China's working-age population, defined as 15-59, fell 3.45 million last year, official data showed earlier this month - the first decline since 1963, after tens of millions died in a famine caused by the Great Leap Forward.