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Children and old-age dependency ratio in China 1950-2100

In 2020, the child and old-age dependency ratio in China are expected to range at around 25.2 and 17 percent respectively, summing up to a total dependency ratio of 42.2 percent. While the child dependency ratio is expected to remain stable, the old-age dependency ratio will rise steadily in coming decades.

Age demographics in China

With a populace of 1.4 billion people by the end of 2019, China stands the country with the largest population in the world. Since its foundation in 1949, the PRC has experienced high population growth. With the beginning of the reform period in the end of the 1970s, population growth decreased steadily and fell to below 0.4 percent annually recently. Falling birth rates in combination with higher life expectancy led to a continuously increasing median age of the population in China over the past five decades. The median age of the Chinese population is expected to rise further and to reach almost 50 years by the middle of the century.

Development of the dependency ratio

China has enjoyed a continuously growing work force since the late 1970s. Simultaneously, the total dependency ratio in China decreased from almost 70 percent in 1980 to about 34 percent in 2010. However, an important turning point was reached in 2011, as total dependency ratio was set to increase again after 30 years of population bonus. As can be seen from the above graph, until 2100, child-dependency is estimated to remain steady between 20 and 30 percent. Old-age dependency on the other hand is expected to grow from about 12 percent in 2010 to over 50 percent in 2060, implying a growing number of senior citizens that need support from the working population. The shift of age demographics in the near future in China is bound to have ineligible economical and social impacts. To learn more about age demographics in China, take a look at our dossier aging population in China.

Children and old-age dependency ratio in China from 1950 to 2100

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Release date

June 2019



Survey time period

1950 to 2010

Supplementary notes

The dependency ratio denotes the relationship between economic dependent age groups (people who are either too old or too young to work) to those of a working age. Those who are defined as being able to work, by the source, are those between the ages of 15 and 64. The dependency ratio indicates how great a burden is placed on those of a working age by those of a non-working age. The old-age dependency rate is even higher considering the current retirement age of 60 for men, 55 for female civil servants and 50 for other female workers.

For statistical purposes, the data apply to mainland China only, not including Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.

Estimated figures from 2020 to 2100 have been based on a medium variant model.

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