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China to Face Serious Labor Shortage As Early As 2021

The harsh realities of the one-child policy

Despite a population of over 1.3 billion people, China is expected to face a labor shortage by 2021 as a result of the one-child policy, which was just recently discontinued. Within five years, people born during the population boom of the 60s and 70s will begin to retire and, in the process, set-off a dramatic reduction in the number of Chinese workers. Within ten years, the situation will only get worse.

“Labor resources between the ages of 20 and 34 will plunge year by year from 2021,” says Yao Meixiong, deputy head of the Center for Population Census of Fujian Provincial Bureau of Statistics. “The drop could amount to 11 million a year from 2022 to 2025. By 2030, the young labor force will be just 221 million, 104 million fewer than in 2010.”

Official statistics say the number of workers between 16 and 59 decreased by 3.7 million from the year before in 2014.

Yao warned that China’s gender imbalance will only exacerbate demographic issues going forward: “In 2010, among people under 19, there were 22.1 million more males than females,” he said. “From 2020, 10 percent of young men will find it hard to find a wife.”

China first lifted the restrictions on its one-child policy in 2014. Among other conditions, Chinese parents are now allowed to apply to have a second child if either parent is a result of the one-child policy themselves. However, despite many Chinese eager to have a second child, others are deciding to have only one child due to financial restraints.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor