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China’s working-age population is shrinking

by SuperiorInvest

Many Meituan food delivery workers line up to make preparations in Shanghai, China, on January 14, 2024. (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Nurfoto | Nurfoto | fake images

BEIJING – China’s working-age population is shrinking as a proportion of the total number of people in the country, according to official data released Wednesday.

People aged 16 to 59 accounted for 61.3% of mainland China’s population last year, up from 62% the year before, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The country is aging rapidly as fewer people have children and life expectancy increases. Births have declined despite Beijing’s efforts over the past decade to begin lifting restrictions on households having one child each.

A declining proportion of working age means fewer people have to support a larger proportion of the population, even as the number of people in China overall declines.

China’s total population fell by more than 2 million people to 1.41 billion in 2023 from the previous year. This was a much larger decline than the drop of 850,000 people in 2022 from the previous year – the first time the country’s population has shrunk since the 1960s.

China’s working-age population has declined after peaking in 2011, UBS analysts said in a report last month.

“A shrinking working-age population, coupled with structural changes in labor supply demand dynamics, are accelerating the adoption of technology (from automation and robotics to digitalization and artificial intelligence) to 1) meet labor needs and 2) increase productivity while saving costs,” the analysts said. .

They noted that there are still opportunities for China to increase the productivity of its workforce by boosting vocational education, taking advantage of the oversupply of rural labor and raising the retirement age.

Youth unemployment

Over the past year, youth unemployment in China has soared to record levels of over 20% amid a slowdown in economic growth and a mismatch between jobs and available skills.

The statistics office suspended publication of the youth unemployment rate in the summer, saying it needed to reassess calculation methods.

This week, the bureau rereported the figure, along with a new breakdown of unemployment by more age categories, as it said it takes time for people to transition from graduation to the workforce. The updated figures exclude people who are still in school, or about 60% of people between 16 and 24 years old, the office said.

In December, the unemployment rate for the 16 to 24 age group was 14.9%, that of 25 to 29 year olds was 6.1%, and 3.9% for 30 to 29 year olds. 59 years old.

The office stated that the overall unemployment rate in cities was 5.1%.

A great base against the world

Mainland China’s total population of people aged 16 to 59 was 864.81 million in 2023, more than double the size of the entire US population of 334.9 million.

The latest figures from the World Bank, which use a broader working age range of 15 to 64, showed that the share of this segment of China’s population fell in 2022 to 69%, down from 69.2% the previous year. .

That proportion had surpassed 70% in 2018, the data showed.

Despite the decline, China’s working-age population share was higher than that of Japan (58.5%), 64.9% in the United States and 68.5% in Vietnam, in 2022.

For India, the proportion was 67.8% of the total population in 2022, up from 67.5% the previous year, World Bank data showed.

—CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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