Will China’s Continued One Child Policy Cause Demographic Problems?

The statue of "The Guanyin Who Sends Chil...

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I recently attended a half day seminar here in California put on by the Inland Empire Asian Business Association (IEABA)  about “Doing Business in China”.  In addition to all the practical information about shipping, logistics and legal hurdles, I had a “eureka” moment after listening to Keenton Chiang from the Shanghai office of the US Commerce Department’s US COMMERCIAL SERVICES Division.  He talked about how fast China’s population is aging and I thought back to an earlier article I’d read about how this “demographic anomaly” caused by China’s continued “One Child Policy” could cause major upheavals and opportunities in that market in the next twenty years.

We always think about China as an ever booming “baby factory” with a population that dwarfs most other countries.  But as an least one author has pointed out, their continued attempts at social engineering may backfire in the short run. 

Li Ban, head of China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, said the country “will stick to the family-planning policy in the coming decades,” CNN reports.

In response, Joseph Meany, Director of International Coordination at Human Life International (HLI), said the Chinese government’s population control policy is “stubbornly persisting in leading their country into a demographic disaster.”

China’s population is currently projected to start shrinking in absolute numbers by 2026, but the coerced low fertility of Chinese women means that the Peoples’ Republic of China is one of the fastest ageing societies in the world.”

Noting that there are often four grandparents for each child as a result of the policy, Meaney asked how the Chinese government plans to pay the pensions of hundreds of millions of elderly.

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Makes you wonder who will be the workers in their factories of the future and how Communism will pay for so many non-working elderly people, all of whom will live far longer than their parents and grandparents did due to the rising health and living standards of today’s China.  How will this Confucian society, with it’s reverance for elders and aging parents, cope with this lopsided situation (where one child potentially cares for four elders)?  What effect will this have on the whole economy and what opportunities does it offer American ingenuity to export products and services for this new population of old people?  Health care companies, hospices and assisted living companies should all be setting up shop in China along with Orange County’s large group of medical device manufacturers and drug companies, all of whom have the technical know how and clinical trial expertise the Chinese still lack. 

As Mr. Chiang pointed out, this industry of high-tech medical devices and drug technology (from artificial hips and hearts to a slew of drugs asssociated with aging ailments) are already in high demand in China.  Something that will only increase with time as China’s population continues to add fewer young people and more old people to its demographic mix.

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One Response to “Will China’s Continued One Child Policy Cause Demographic Problems?”

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