Asia facing a demographic malaise

Asia’s economic growth, particularly in China, has been a stark to the financial crises in Europe. But the two regions do share a potentially negative trait – low birth-rates. European families have witnessed a decline of their birth rate, which has been more a consequence of social trends than anything else. In China and Japan, however, it has been public policy which has limited the population growth.

An article in the East Asia Forum, however, notes the potential downside of the so-called demographic malaise.

“These are the lowest fertility rates in the world and are a real cause for concern: a country with a sustained fertility rate of 1.3 will see the grandchild’s generation fall to 40 per cent of the size of the grandparent’s generation.

“But well before population decline becomes a problem, such countries will experience a sharp fall in the size of their labour forces, which will coincide with the most rapid expansion of the number of citizens making up a country’s aged population,” writes Peter McDonald.

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