China Chartbook: Ageing and rejuvenation


To prevent getting old before getting rich, Chinese government spared no effort in tackling various social problem. Over the long-run, automation is needed to enhance productivity.
Chris Leung, Nathan Chow, Samuel Tse02 Sep 2021
  • China’s demographic dynamic has tilted sharply toward stagnation in recent decades
  • One-child policy, as well as unaffordable education, childcare, and home prices were major causes
  • China’s elderly dependency ratio reached 17.8% in 2019 but per capita GDP was relatively low
  • Recent implementation of a three-child policy and regulatory crackdown are justifiable steps
  • Automation and robot adoption will gather pace to enhance productivity
Photo credit: AFP Photo


• China’s demographic dynamic has tilted sharply toward stagnation in recent decades. Total fertility rate fell from 5.7% in 1970 to a meagre 1.3% in 2020 -- below the replacement level. One-child policy, as well as unaffordable education, childcare, and home prices were major causes.

• Low fertility alongside a shrinking working-age population weighs heavily on productivity growth, socioeconomic development, and fiscal sustainability.

• China’s elderly dependency ratio reached 17.8% in 2019 but per capita GDP was relatively low (USD10,182) as evidenced by international experience.

• Recent implementation of a three-child policy and regulatory crackdown are justifiable steps to rectify the order of income distribution and incentivize childbirth.

• Lifting statutory retirement age and improving population health are viable solutions. Automation and robot adoption will gather pace to enhance productivity.




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Chris Leung

Economist - China & Hong Kong
[email protected]

Nathan Chow 周洪禮

Senior Economist/Strategist 策略師 - 中國及香港
[email protected]

Samuel Tse 謝家曦

Economist - China & Hong Kong 經濟學家 - 中國及香港
[email protected]


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