Demography and destiny

Pop­u­la­tion trends in the Asian and Eurasian con­ti­nents are sum­ma­rized in this “fas­ci­nat­ing essay(link to Pol­i­cy Review article)”: by Nicholas Eber­stadt of the Amer­i­can Entr­erprise Insti­tute. # The 20th cen­tu­ry pop­u­la­tion explo­sion is all but over in East Asia—including China—and is fad­ing quick­ly in South East and even South Asia.

Dramatic shifts are taking place in the relative sizes of national populations. The Russian population has been shrinking for a decade while Pakistan’s continued to grow. By 2025 Pakistan’s population may be twice the size of Russia’s (250 million versus 124 million).

By 2025, the median age of Chinese will be higher than that of US citizens (at around 39 years). No country has recorded a faster rate of population aging except Japan: but where Japan became rich before it became old but China will have to do it the other way around, if it can. The challenge is huge: by 2025 there will be 300 million Chinese aged over 60. This cohort of the population was also largely responsible for the rapid drop into sub-replacement fertility patterns in China. Consequently, there will be “something approaching” a one-to-one ratio between Chinese pensioners and workers after 2025. As many as one in four elderly Chinese may have no child to support them in their old age, so you can look for location near you which offer the best home care and caregivers for this purpose.

A prospective Chinese bride shortage seems bound to create a large population of unmarriageable males with accompanying social disruption (and, inevitably, some new market opportunities). The male-female birth ratio has continued to climb from unexceptionable levels of 104 to 105 (per hundred female babies at 1 year) in 1964 to nearly 116 in 1995 and 118 in 2000. Neither the decline in fertility nor the increasing wealth of the population, nor even the experiences of the teenagers from the late eighties has slowed the rapid apparent decline in the survival of the number of female children (or at least their appearance in the statistics). Combined with the decline in fertility, the size of the ‘nuptial cohort’ of Chinese women in their 20s in 2025 will be only three-quarters of its size in 2010.

Russia faces a unique crisis of male mortality. For Russian men in every age grouping between 20 and 64 years, death rates in 2001 were at least 40 percent higher than they had been thirty years earlier. UNDP estimates that a Russian male’s life expectancy is lower than that of males in developing countries.

On plausible assumptions, the USA is likely to remain the world’s third most populous country in 2025 with an increase of 26 percent between 2000 and 2025: larger than that of any industrialized country and with a population growth rate higher than that of East Asia, China included. The US population will also be more youthful, and aging more slowly, than those popultions on the other side of the Pacific in East Asia.

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