Demographic shifts will not stop China's rise

Demography will continue to shape world politics, as it always has. But the historic connection between a growing and youthful population and increasing national power is giving way to something more complex.

With a population of 1.4 billion people, China is not short of manpower, says the writer. But it is the structure rather than the size of its population that will be the real challenge. By 2040, about 30 per cent of the Chinese will be aged above 60. More old people will have to be supported by a smaller working-age population, slowing economic growth. PHOTO: REUTERS

(FINANCIAL TIMES) "China will grow old, before it grows rich" is one of those things people like to say at conferences - usually followed by a dramatic pause. The implication is that China's rise to global dominance will soon hit a giant barrier: demographics.

China's low fertility rate means that its population will shrink and age over the coming decades. Its population grew at its slowest rate in decades in the 10 years to 2020, according to census data released yesterday, which also showed that births declined sharply last year.

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