Dependency ratio in China 2009-2019

In 2019, the age dependency ratio in China increased to 41.5 percent, up from 40.4 percent in the previous year. This meant that for every 100 people of working age, around 42 seniors and children had to be supported.

Age dependency ratio

The age dependency ratio denotes the relationship between economically dependent age groups (people who are either too old or too young to work) to those of working age. Those who are defined as being able to work, according to the source, are people between the ages of 15 and 64. The dependency ratio indicates how great a burden is placed on those of working age by those of non-working age. In international comparison, China has a relatively low age dependency ratio, when compared to age dependency in G20 countries or other countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Development in China

In the past two decades, China’s economy has profited from a relatively low dependency ratio. In combination with a growing working age population, these were the two main demographic causes for China’s large and cheap labor force. However, the dependency ratio has been falling since the 1970s, mainly because of lower birth rates and a resulting decrease of child dependency. This led the age dependency ratio to reach a historic low between 2005 and 2017, when it fell to levels below 40 percent. A turning point had been reached around the year 2010, when the effects of declining child dependency were neutralized by growing old-age dependency. This rapid aging of the population is the other side of the coin of decades of low birth rates, which will pose great challenges to Chinese society in the future.

Age dependency ratio in China from 2009 to 2019

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Release date

October 2020



Survey time period

2009 to 2019

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