As China Ages, a Shortage of Cheap Labor Looms

By HOWARD W. FRENCH
Published: June 30, 2006 – Copyright The New York Times
To see the entire article, please refer to the NYT website:
Click to read more
SHANGHAI, June 29 ó Shanghai is rightfully known as a fast-moving, hypermodern city ó full of youth and vigor. But that obscures a less well-known fact: Shanghai has the oldest population in China, and it is getting older in a hurry.
Twenty percent of this city’s people are at least 60, the common retirement age for men in China, and retirees are easily the fastest growing segment of the population, with 100,000 new seniors added to the rolls each year, according to a study by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. From 2010 to 2020, the number of people 60 or older is projected to grow by 170,000 a year.
By 2020 about a third of Shanghai’s population, currently 13.6 million, will consist of people over the age of 59, remaking the city’s social fabric and placing huge new strains on its economy and finances.
The changes go far beyond Shanghai, however. Experts say the rapidly graying city is leading one of the greatest demographic changes in history, one with profound implications for the entire country.
The world’s most populous nation, which has built its economic strength on seemingly endless supplies of cheap labor, China may soon face manpower shortages. An aging population also poses difficult political issues for the Communist government, which first encouraged a population explosion in the 1950’s and then reversed course and introduced the so-called one-child policy a few years after the death of Mao in 1976.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *