Five rules for an ageing world

China is not the only country with demographic challenges. What should countries be alert to when faced with a greying, shrinking population?

China's population declined for the first time since the Great Leap Forward, more than 60 years ago. PHOTO: REUTERS
Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who believe the defining challenge of the 21st century will be climate change, and those who know that it will be the birth dearth, the population bust, the old age of the world.

That kind of column opener is a hostage to fortune. If I’m wrong, it might be quoted grimly or mockingly in future histories written with New York underwater and Texas uninhabitable.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and straitstimes.com

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.