The birth rate in China has declined to its lowest in 70 years since the creation of the People's Republic of China (PRC). This happened even despite the abolition of the rule, “one family, one child.”

In 2019, 580 thousand fewer children were born in China as compared to 2018, namely 14.65 million, which is the lowest rate since 1949. This is indeed a severe problem for the world’s second-largest economy. At the same time, the average life expectancy in China has increased, along with the country’s population. A situation like this is a time bomb for Chinese demography. Just think about it: a working minority will have to support a non-working majority.

The World Bank data on China’s population through the years

In 1979, the authorities decided to slow down the rapid population growth and introduced the new policy of “one family, one child.” Violation of this policy could lead to a hefty fine, job dismissal, and even forced abortions. Exceptions were only allowed for residents of rural areas as well as for ethical minorities, and in case if the first-born child was a girl.

In 2013, couples in which at least one parent was the only child in the family became allowed to have two children. Spoiler alert: such a policy has led to gender imbalance. In 2019, China’s male population exceeded the female population by 30 million people.

In 2015, the “one-child” policy came to an end, and the government allowed everyone to have two children. However, without childcare payments and maternity leave, the whole thing met with little success, as many families simply do not have enough money, and they can’t afford another kid. The demographic trend of “one family, one child” has done tangible harm to the economy of China in several ways:

  1. It led to a decrease in the working-age population. Numerous and young workforce has always been the main factor that drove China’s economic growth. 57.8% of companies already find it difficult to find employees in open positions because of the population aging. According to experts’ forecasts, by 2030, the labor shortage will amount to about 50 million people.
  2. Consumption has become less active, mainly because of the young population decline. In recent years, China has been actively trying to increase the domestic market, but demand for it is weakening amid demographic problems. Last year, retail sales grew by only 8%, which is the worst result since 1999.

The most recent projections regarding the aging of the population in the 21st century indicate that in 2053, the number of senior citizens in China will increase to 487 million people. According to the United Nations, an “aging” population is the one that has more than 10% of people over 60 years old, and this is what is expected to happen with China in 2053. In the second half of the 21st century, China will be the oldest country in the world in terms of population.

There are some ways of solving this problem, including increasing the retirement age, attracting migrants to work, introducing of AI-based systems in the manufacturing and service industries, and the most drastic measure is a coronavirus.

The coronavirus pandemic and the virus itself have been surrounded by a variety of outlandish and weird conspiracy theories from the very beginning. The most common one says that the novel coronavirus predominantly kills older adults and that it was artificially created to ease the burden of retirement for the global economy. Below you will find some facts, and it’s up to you whether to believe them or not.

Statistics you can’t argue with: older people are most vulnerable to becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus. The average age of those who died from COVID-19 is 79.4 years old, and 71% of them are men.

COVID-19 death rate

Let’s look at the situation in Italy. Italy is one of the countries with the oldest population in the world. The data show that the average age of those who died from the coronavirus is 81 years old. Yes, there is an opinion that older people are not the only category at risk; people with certain health problems are vulnerable, too. But according to researchers, 60% of all older people have at least one chronic disease. Heart disease, cancer, diabetes – all of these can exacerbate the coronavirus infection and increase the likelihood of developing severe illness and death.

COVID-19 case fatality ratio

A study was conducted in China that showed that people infected with the coronavirus and who have one chronic disease have a 1.8 times greater chance of death, those who have two chronic diseases have a 2.6 times higher chance.

It is reasonably expected that the coronavirus will be the main cause of death among older people, which means there will be no one left to give pension payments to.