China recently announced plans to loosen its infamous one-child policy.
As the country grows richer and the pace of population growth slows, the country has a new demographic concern: underpopulation. Specifically, it has reason to be worried about getting old before it gets rich, and a high dependency ratio (lots of old, retired people being supported by a workforce that isn’t big enough).
To visualise China’s challenge, Bloomberg economist Michael McDonough an editor of Bloomberg Briefs created this chart comparing Japan’s demographics now to China’s in 2030. The distribution of population by age looks very similar.
Japan is famous for its ageing population, and all of the growth and societal problems that entails. But of course, Japan is an extremely wealthy country so it can handle that. China will be looking Japan-like in less than two decades, and it’s got a long way to go before its as wealthy.
Also note there is one big difference between the two population pyramids, and it’s not to China’s advantage: China skews much more heavily male.