With the end of demographic dividend and low fertility rate, what should we do next?

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 With the end of demographic dividend and low fertility rate, what should we do next?


As an expert in population economics, Zuo Xue Jin has made great achievements in the field of economy and social security. He went to the University of Pittsburgh to study for his Ph.D. in economics, and was also the first group of returnees since Chinas reform and opening up. He was the chief expert on major social science projects and major natural science projects.

Professor Zuo Xuejin has devoted decades to the fields of population economics, population migration and urbanization, urban spatial distribution, labor employment and social security. During his tenure as a counsellor to the municipal government, population ageing, social security and urban space issues were also his main areas of advice and advice. After stepping down as executive vice president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and director of the Institute of Economics, nearly 70 years old, he is still busy presiding over research projects, guiding graduate students and participating in social activities.

In the view of left-handed scholarship, it is not easy to reach a social consensus on major policy issues in a society with increasingly diverse interests. As a scholar engaged in social sciences, it is necessary to combine scientific attitudes with social responsibilities, realistic but not nominal, not only on the top.

Looking back on the line of population development since reform and opening up, he has too much to say.

Without reform and opening up, Chinas rich labor resources can only be found in rural areas.

Top News: Many scholars believe that Chinas demographic dividend has played an important role in promoting economic growth since the reform and opening up. As a population economist, how do you see the role of demographic dividend?

The demographic dividend has indeed made an important contribution to the rapid growth of Chinas economy since the reform and opening up. The so-called demographic dividend refers to a period of rapid decline in the fertility rate of the population, a rapid decline in the proportion of children in the total population and a relatively stable proportion of the elderly population, a higher proportion of the working-age population in the total population, creating favorable demographic conditions for economic development, and a high savings rate in the economy of the country as a whole. High investment and high growth.

After the founding of New China, it happened that the high fertility rate (with an average of six children per woman) changed to the low fertility rate from 1950 to 1960 (except for three years of economic hardship). The total fertility rate of Chinese women has dropped from an average of 5.81 children per woman in 1970 to 2.75 in 1979 and 2.24 in 1980. It is unprecedented in human history that the fertility rate of a developing country with a huge population has dropped so rapidly. Since 1991, Chinas fertility rate has fallen to below 2.1 level of fertility replacement, and has dropped to about 1.5 in recent years along the way. Since the reform and opening up in 1978, people born in the 1950s-60s have entered the labor market, and they have fewer children of childbearing age in 1970-90, so China has begun to see a demographic dividend period.

Viewing news: what is the relationship between reform and opening up and demographic dividend?

Zuo Xue Jin: demographic dividend is only a demography phenomenon, and it is a potential to promote economic growth. But whether this potential can be realized and whether it can really play its role requires a suitable economic system. For example, a demographic dividend is like a seed that needs the right soil and climate conditions to take root, germinate and thrive; if not, the seed slowly shrinks and loses its vitality.

In the planned economy period before the reform and opening-up, China implemented the catch-up strategy, gave priority to the development of heavy industry, and had a weak ability to absorb employment. It was unable to create enough jobs to absorb the rapidly growing labor force in urban and rural areas. A large number of rural surplus labor force (including rural educated youth) can only live in the countryside, the income is very low, the incidence of poverty is very high. In terms of economics, marginal output of labor input is very low. Generally speaking, if only one labor force is needed for two mu of land, the increase of labor input can not effectively increase the output of land.

SHANGHAI NEWS: You mean, without the reform and opening up, Chinas demographic dividend will not be effectively utilized under the planned economic system?

Zuo Xue Jin: thats right. In the planned economy era, in order to avoid large-scale urban unemployment caused by the large number of surplus rural labor force entering the city, the government has taken various measures to restrict the migration of rural labor force to the city. When farmers visited relatives and friends in cities, they had to report temporary accounts, not to mention employment.

During the Cultural Revolution, China also launched a large-scale mountain to the countryside campaign, an important consideration behind is to solve the problem of employment of young intellectuals. Of course, this can only be a temporary measure, because in the long run, this can not really solve the problem of employment, but will exacerbate the contradiction between more people and less land in rural areas. Achieving industrialization and promoting the development and employment of non-agricultural industries are in line with the development trend of economic laws.

Left Scholarship: After the reform and opening up, China has gradually realized the transformation from planned economy to socialist market economy, from government allocation of resources to market allocation of resources, including of course, labor resources.

China has adopted a series of policy measures to solve the problem of rural surplus labor, such as allowing farmers to leave the land and not leave the country to develop township enterprises, allowing farmers to bring their own rations to settle in small towns, or migrate to urban areas for employment. In addition, Chinas opening to the outside world, the active introduction of foreign capital, rich labor resources and the introduction of foreign capital combined, accelerated the process of industrialization and economic globalization. Since the reform and opening up, Chinas huge cheap labor force, especially hundreds of millions of migrant workers, is an important force to promote Chinas rapid economic growth, especially the rapid growth of labor-intensive manufacturing industry.

It should be emphasized that the demographic dividend will not last for a long time. Because the huge population born in the 1950s-1960s in China gradually entered the old age after 2010, and their children are less. Therefore, Chinas 65-year-old and above elderly population compared with the 15-64-year-old working-age population of the elderly dependency ratio will rise rapidly. Chinas elderly dependency ratio is 9.9% in 2000, 11.9% in 2010 and 15% in 2016. The scarcity of labor force is increasing and Chinas demographic dividend is ending.

If our country started reform and opening up in the last 30 years, the demographic dividend period with abundant labor resources would be over. It is the great policy of reform and opening up that has made full use of the advantages of Chinas abundant labor resources, which is fortunate for China.

Watching news: then, when will Chinas labor force begin to decline?

Left-hand tuition: According to the data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, the total number of people of working age in China has declined since 2012, dropping by millions every year. As a result, labor costs have risen, labor-intensive industries have begun to lose their comparative advantage in the international market, and some industries have begun to transfer to other developing countries such as Vietnam, India, Mexico. Almost all of the labor-intensive products, such as clothing, shoes, toys and so on, were originally made in China, and now the origins of these products are beginning to diversify. An important reason behind this is the decline in the number of labor force and the aging of population in China.

It is expected that the low fertility rate of our population will continue for a long time in the future.

Watching news: can you talk about the future development trend of our population?

Zuo Xue Jin: an important trend in the future development of our population is that the low fertility rate will last for a long time. As I said earlier, in 1991 our fertility rate dropped below replacement fertility (2.1 children per woman) and then went down all the way. At present, the total fertility rate in China is about 1.5. Although there is still controversy about the real level of fertility in China, the fertility rate has dropped to a very low level, which has become the consensus of most people.

For a long time, we overestimated the impact of fertility control policies on fertility, assuming that if we relax fertility policies, fertility will rebound rapidly. However, since the implementation of the separate two-child policy in 2013 and the implementation of a comprehensive two-child policy in 2015, Chinas practice has shown that the actual fertility rate is far less responsive to the relaxation of the birth policy than people expected.

According to the statistics of the State Statistical Bureau, Chinas total birth population was 17.23 million in 2017, with a birth rate of 12.43. The birth population and the birth rate both decreased compared with 2016. This has surprised many people.

Why did the relaxation of fertility policy fail to bring about a marked increase in fertility? This is because behind the low fertility rate in China is low fertility desire. The average number of willing children in 2007 was 1.89, and the average number of willing children in 2012 and 2013 was 1.86.

In real life, the actual fertility rate will be significantly lower than fertility intention, it is subject to birth control policy, economic and social and physiological constraints. Overall, in the past 30 years, especially since the birth control policy was relaxed many times in this century, the impact of birth control policy constraints has been declining, while the economic, social and physiological constraints have been rising.

For example, more than 95% of the respondents surveyed in the five sample surveys of fertility intention from 2012 to 2016 said that the ideal number of children was 2 or less, while less than 5% of the respondents said that the ideal number of children was 3 or more, and some years even less than 2%. Therefore, after the implementation of the comprehensive two-child policy, more than 95% of the people of childbearing age have the desire to have children within the scope of the fertility policy, and the fertility policy does not constitute a policy constraint on their actual fertility rate.

Of course, after the relaxation of the birth control policy, the desire to have a second child has been released, but the effect of this policy is short-term and can not be sustained for a long time. Therefore, the role of the relaxation of the birth control policy in raising the fertility rate has been very limited at present and in the future. It is expected that the low fertility rate of our population will continue for a long time in the future.

Watching news: our fertility rate has dropped. When will the population aging?

Left Scholarship: According to international standards, a population over 60 years of age to reach 10% or 65 years of age to reach 7% of the population began to aging. China began to enter the aging population in 2000. By the end of 2017, the proportion of the elderly aged 65 and over in the total population or the aging rate has reached 11.4%. In the middle of this century, Chinas population aging level is expected to be as high as about 35%, even more serious than the situation in Japan today (27%). Aging will have a profound impact on Chinas long-term economic development and social security system.

The fertility rate in Shanghai dropped earlier than that in the whole country and faster than that in the whole country.

News: what kind of development trend does Shanghais population have?

Left Scholarship: About the population of Shanghai, we can talk about it in two aspects: the first is the low fertility rate and the aging population in Shanghai; the second is the problem of population migration.

For a long time, Shanghai has implemented the states family planning policy. However, due to its special economic and social conditions, such as housing congestion, a large proportion of employment in the system and a high level of education, the fertility rate in Shanghai has fallen earlier and faster than that in the whole country. For most of the years since 1980, Shanghais total fertility rate has ranged from 0.7 to 0.9, which means that it is ultra-low fertility. Beginning in 1993, except for a few years, there has been a negative growth in the natural change of the registered population in Shanghai, that is, the number of births of the registered population is less than the number of deaths.

An important consequence of the super low fertility rate is the super aging of the population. According to statistics released by the Department of Statistics, in 2017 Shanghais household registration population, the elderly population over 60 years old has reached 4.836 million, accounting for 33.2% of the total household registration population. The total dependency factor has reached 77.1 per cent, i.e. 77 people aged 60 and above or 0-14 per 100 people of working age.

The aging population in Shanghai has also caused the proportion of pension contributors and retirees (i.e. the system support ratio) to decline and the deterioration of the financial revenue and expenditure of Shanghai pension fund. Before 2011, the basic old-age insurance in Shanghai had been bottom, with an annual loss of about 10000000000. The participation of migrant workers in Shanghai in basic social insurance (endowment insurance and medical insurance) has greatly improved the financial situation of social insurance in Shanghai.

Zuo Xue Jin: Yes. Shanghai is an immigrant city with many rivers and streams. If there were no immigrants, there would be no Shanghai since its opening. After the opening of the mid nineteenth Century, Shanghais population grew rapidly. The population of Shanghai in 1900 was about 10.77 million, and by 1947 it had grown to 5.4 million, a 4.4-fold increase in less than half a century. The rapid growth of population is mainly caused by the large number of immigrants from other places. According to a study by Professor Zou Yiren of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, more than 80% of Shanghais population was born out of the country. Compared with this period of history, the population growth of Shanghai in the planned economy period was very slow, and the population growth of Shanghai has doubled about 40 years since the reform and opening up, which is only moderate.

Watching news: how many times have population flows in Shanghai gone through?

Zuo Xue Jin: I personally believe that the population movement in Shanghai has gone through four periods. The first period is the period of planned economy. Except for a few exceptions, the spontaneous flow of population and labor is not allowed. The second period is the initial stage of reform and opening up, from 1978 to 1990, the development and opening up of Pudong. During this period, labor flow mainly from the agricultural sector to the non-agricultural sector, especially from leaving the soil and not leaving the country to township enterprises, the scale of the migrant population is still relatively small. However, the distribution of township enterprises is relatively scattered, which also brings about poor economies of scale, as well as environmental pollution and governance difficulties. The third period is the period of rapid economic growth and large inflow of foreign labor in Shanghai since the development and opening up of Pudong. The fourth period is that the growth rate of the floating population in Shanghai has slowed down in recent years, and Shanghai has entered a stage of low growth of the permanent population and rapid aging of the population.

Left Scholarship: According to the social insurance needs of migrant workers, Shanghai implements the comprehensive insurance for migrant workers, and provides them with old-age insurance and industrial injury insurance for serious illness at a lower rate of payment, which makes the enterprises that use a large number of migrant workers develop.

As a counsellor, I suggested that, on the basis of lowering the compulsory payment rate of basic endowment insurance for urban workers, migrant workers should be allowed to directly participate in the basic insurance for urban workers, so as to better protect the rights and interests of migrant workers and reduce the system dependency ratio of basic insurance for urban workers in Shanghai. This proposal received the attention of the leading leaders in Shanghai, but it failed to be implemented. Subsequently (2011) Shanghai, like the whole country, incorporated the insurance for migrant workers into the basic insurance for urban workers, which greatly improved the financial situation of Shanghais social insurance. But the problem is that the social security premium rate is too high, the burden of enterprises is heavy, and the rate of migrant workers participation is low. This issue has been taken seriously by the state, and I believe that relevant policies will be introduced soon.

On the news: in addition to reducing fees, the central government also put forward the issue of overall national pension system.

Zuo Xue Jin: Yes. Although the central government has made clear the direction of the reform of the overall planning of the whole country, it is difficult to implement it, mainly because there are a large number of interests between the central and local, local and local coordination and game problems. Without national co-ordination, there will be no way to form a unified national labor market. This needs to strengthen the leading role of the central government and give full play to the two initiatives of the central government and the local government.

In addition, Chinas multi-level social security system has lagged behind. The reform should not only take into account the fairness, efficiency and sustainable development of social security, but also leave more room for the development of the voluntary participation and market-oriented social security system.

Viewing news: what is the solution to the problem of aging population in Shanghai?

Zuo Xuejin: Now the aging rate in Shanghai has reached 33.2%, but Shanghai has benefited from a large number of young and middle-aged migrants, so the aging level of the permanent population in Shanghai is only slightly higher than the national average.

In order to cope with the population aging, apart from further liberalizing the birth policy and carrying out family autonomy in urban and rural areas, we should also put forward more comprehensive policies to cope with the population aging according to the needs of economic and social development, including promoting healthy aging and active aging policies in many aspects. How to make better use of the wealth of the elderly population is an important issue. In addition, we should strengthen the overall planning of the Yangtze River Delta in order to tackle the problem of aging population. There are many elderly people in Shanghai who spontaneously practise providing for the aged in different places. The problem is how to give more support to the policy.

Replace the demographic dividend with the dividend reform and return to the people oriented approach

Watching news: now big cities are looting talent.

Zuo Xue Jin: the competition of cities is, in the final analysis, the competition of talents. To innovate in Shanghai, we must attract talents from all sides. In my opinion, the understanding of talents should be wider. Graduates from famous universities are talents, entrepreneurs and skilled people are talents. In the history of Shanghai, the famous hardware kings, rubber kings and matches kings were originally poor people, but they all made important contributions to the development of modern industry in Shanghai.

Shanghai itself is an immigrant city, attracting large numbers of people from all over the world. Haina hundred rivers created her todays characteristics and achievements. Shanghai has been highly aging. If we can not supplement the young population, the vitality will be less and less.

Watching news: do big cities carry so many people?

Zuo Xuejin: We have a certain misunderstanding about demography. Population is the easiest scapegoat for many social problems, but many problems are not caused by population. For example, the problem of urban congestion: Beijing has fewer people than Shanghai, the urban area is much larger than Shanghai, but traffic congestion is more serious than Shanghai; while Hong Kongs land area is only one-sixth of Shanghais, less than one-tenth of Shanghais construction land, but accommodates nearly one-third of Shanghais population, traffic conditions. Its much better than Shanghai.

The current traffic congestion is more related to urban planning. The permanent population (or night population) in the downtown area of Shanghai is becoming smaller and smaller, while the employment population (or day population) is increasing, which has caused a serious separation of work and residence problem. Huangpu District has at least 1.5 million employees who live in Huangpu District, most likely living in the urban-rural fringe or suburbs, commuting long distances to work, which naturally will form a large-scale tidal movement and traffic congestion.

Viewing news: what do you think of the trend of population development in the future?

Zuo Xue Jin: behind the transformation of Chinas economy, population is an important driving force. In the past forty years of reform and opening up, the change of population structure is mainly due to changes in age structure and urban and rural structure. The most important foundation for building an innovative country is human beings. We must face and deal with the possible impact of demographic structural changes, replace demographic Dividends with reform dividends, and put more emphasis on the people-oriented development strategy.

From the trend of population change, a comparative advantage has changed a lot. The growth of our population is slowing down, and the working-age population has declined year after year since 2012. Accordingly, the support ratio of the working-age population to the elderly population is also declining, and the comparative advantage of Chinas labor-intensive manufacturing industry in the world is weakening. According to the changing trend of Chinas population, Chinas labor force will become increasingly scarce in the future, and labor costs will continue to rise.

Viewing news: you have said that the most important foundation for building an innovative country is human beings and our children.

Zuo Xue Jin: Yes. In the 1964 census, four out of 10 Chinese were children between the ages of 0 and 14, compared with less than one child in six. Chinas investment in childrens human capital, especially for 60 million rural left-behind children and 30 million urban migrant children is far from enough. If we want to build an innovative country successfully, we must start with our childrens education. Before the reform and opening up, many people engaged in a profession for a lifetime and worked in a unit. The situation is different now. A person may work in many units and engage in several occupations throughout his life. In addition, the future of artificial intelligence will also have an impact on employment, more mechanical jobs are easy to be replaced by machines. And our country has also made a corresponding decision to strengthen the countrys science and technology, more emphasis on high-quality economic growth, so improving the quality of the population is an urgent task. We should pay attention to education, establish the concept of lifelong learning, and constantly strengthen training so as to adapt ourselves to the changes in population development. The source of this article: on the news writer: Wang Haiyan editor in charge: Han Jiapeng _NN9841

Zuo Xue Jin: Yes. In the 1964 census, four out of 10 Chinese were children between the ages of 0 and 14, compared with less than one child in six. Chinas investment in childrens human capital, especially for 60 million rural left-behind children and 30 million urban migrant children is far from enough. If we want to build an innovative country successfully, we must start with our childrens education.

Before the reform and opening up, many people engaged in a profession for a lifetime and worked in a unit. The situation is different now. A person may work in many units and engage in several occupations throughout his life. In addition, the future of artificial intelligence will also have an impact on employment, more mechanical jobs are easy to be replaced by machines. And our country has also made a corresponding decision to strengthen the countrys science and technology, more emphasis on high-quality economic growth, so improving the quality of the population is an urgent task. We should pay attention to education, establish the concept of lifelong learning, and constantly strengthen training so as to adapt ourselves to the changes in population development.