CoPS/IMPACT Working Paper Number G-191

Title: Future Population Trends in China: 2005-2050

Authors: Chen Wei and Liu Jinju


Using China's 2000 census data, this paper conducts population projection under different fertility scenarios to gauge the likely trends in China's future population change. The range of fertility assumptions captures the uncertainty of current fertility estimates as well as the likely trends under the family planning policy and economic development. Only one mortality scenario is applied and net international migration is assumed to be null in the population projection. Future life tables are generated by Brass logit techniques with initial 2000 life tables and assumed annual life expectancy at birth following the United Nations medium improvement model.

China is experiencing unprecedented demographic transition together with the radical social and economic transformation. Demographically speaking China is now a developed country. However, China's future population growth is substantial, a solely result of the population momentum built into the age structure by past fertility and mortality. 10 percent or 135 million increase is expected in the next 25 years under the medium fertility scenario. China would reach a maximum population of 1443 million in 2030, followed by a long-term population decline.

Two major changes of the future population age structure of China are continuing demographic dividend and rapid population ageing. China's demographic window of opportunity opened at 1990 and will close at 2033. Having a work force of around one billion has many advantages if we consider only the dependency ratio in the population or the labour supply for the development. However, China will be also experiencing a rapid population ageing after 2015. One fifth to one quarter of the Chinese population would be older people at age 65 or over after 2035. The year of 2029 would be a turning point in China's age structure transition, when for the first time in Chinese history the elderly population would exceed the child population.

JEL classification: J11.

Keywords: population projection, Brass logit transformation, life table, China

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