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Population: A Problem Everywhere
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Population: A Problem Everywhere

East-West Center Senior Fellow Griffith Feeney and Yuan Jianhua of the Beijing Institute of Information and Control have written in their 1994 study, "Below Replacement Fertility in China? A Close Look at Recent Evidence," that continued pressure by Chinese leaders to control population growth by further reducing fertility levels could accelerate the nation's growing problem of population aging.

Reported in the July/September 1994 issue of the EWC newsletter Asia Pacific Observer, the authors posit that "because population aging is a problem that will unfold over the next half century, China's birth planning authorities must consider the long-term consequences of current policies." With fertility near or below replacement levels, the immediate effect of reducing the proportion of young people in the population and raising the proportion of older people will mean that within the next fifty years the imbalance of old people will be unprecedented.

Parallels exist in Japan, but that wealthy, developed country has resources to deal with problems which stem from an aging population. This may not hold for China, so the authors ask, "Which is more important, minimizing future population growth, or securing a more favorable ratio of working age persons to retirement age persons?" The authors believe that this is a tradeoff that China will have to look at.

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