This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Age Transition is a Transition--China as a Case in Point

I am not a fan of China's One-Child Policy any more than I am a fan of the Republican Party's platform stand against abortion rights for women. I don't personally believe that a government should be telling, indeed forcing, women to have or not have children. Indeed, as I argue in my book, China's birth rate was already declining rapidly when the One-Child Policy was implemented and it probably would have dropped to low levels even without that Draconian policy. But it is important to remember that China's economic success is directly tied to the age transition brought about by that rapid drop in fertility, especially since it was occurring in a population that has become increasingly educated and thus economically more productive than would otherwise be the case. 

I mention this because a story in today's New York Times seems to lament the fact that as China's youth become college educated in greater proportions, they no longer want the factory jobs that have powered China's economy for the past two decades. Does this spell doom for China's economy? Not exactly, since:
The combination of the one-child policy and rising rates of college education is only starting to hit the core of China’s factory work force: 18- to 21-year-olds not in college. Their numbers are on track to plunge by 29 percent from 2010 to 2020 even if enrollments in higher education hold steady.
Since the age transition is just that--a transition--we have known since it began that it would not last. China's economy has tried to make the most of the transition, but now it has transition into something else. A better educated population is certainly a good starting place for China's next economic transition, which may involve things like managing workers in other less developed countries where wages are lower than in China.

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