According to the latest Yicai Media report, 13 provinces in mainland China have now recorded that more than 20 percent of their population is over 60. Among them, there are three provinces where the proportion of this age group exceeded one-fifth for the first time, including Beijing, as the country’s aging process continues to accelerate. The report raises the challenges of China’s rapidly aging population.
Liaoning has nearly 11 million people over the age of 60, equivalent to 25 per cent of the provincial population; while Shandong has the largest elderly population with 21.51 million, equivalent to 21.15 % of its citizens.
Guangdong, the largest province by GDP, ranks third nationally, after Tibet and Xinjiang, with only 12.73 % of the population over 60.
The cause that aggravated the demographic crisis is the declining birth rate. The total population of the country only increased by 480,000 people, which means an increase of 2.04 million in 2020; a negative population growth according to the latest UN report.
The seventh national population census showed that the number of people of working age by 2020 decreased by 6.97 % compared to 2010. The public pension system is expected to face a deficit in the next two decades as a result of declining contributions from workers.
So far, some areas with scarce employment opportunities for young people are experiencing pension shortages. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Heilongjiang is one of them, with a deficit of 35.89 billion yuan ($5.1 billion) last year. Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Capital, said, “At the current trend of aging, the pension deficit could become a national problem in 30 years’ time when the whole country becomes an aging society.” The Chinese Academy of Sciences projected in 2019 that China’s urban state pension fund would run out of money by 2035.
In response to the risk of deficit, the national pooling of core pension funds was launched in January 2022.
Chen Wei, professor at Renmin University, said, “Such speed and scale would be a huge pressure and challenge in any country.” He added that old people were likely to rely more on family members.