Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Rapidly Aging Face of China

An interesting article in today's Times emphasizes what astute demographers already know: China's population is projected to begin quickly aging, more than any other "major" nation...this phenomenon will have consequences for this newly industrializing country, specifically finding the resources to care for an enormous population of retirees. (Since everything in China is on a grand scale, the estimated numbers are upwards of 430 million people. It should go without saying that China's pensions system is dysfunctional ("fragmentary" is the term used in the article, sadly without more exposition) and lacks sufficient funding (financial tricks are hinted at), and the peasant tradition of younger people caring for the elderly has fallen by the wayside in the wake of the massive economic expansion that has taken place within the last 20 years, but the demographics does much to explain why the country seems so frantic to "become rich"--there is a limited time before the aging population will begin to consume most of the resources. Perhaps no other country will be more fascinating to observe over the next 20-30 years, Chaos believes, save that of the US.

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