Share This Article:

Age Distribution of a Zero-Growth Population: Implications for China

Abstract Full-Text HTML Download Download as PDF (Size:204KB) PP. 77-83
DOI: 10.4236/chnstd.2013.22011    5,771 Downloads   9,309 Views  
Author(s)    Leave a comment


It is generally accepted that zero-growth population would be the long-term destiny of any population. China’s population is expected to reach 1.4 billion with zero-growth around 2030, if the low fertility policy continues up to then. Demographic dynamics indicate that the age composition of a steady zero-growth society would asymptotically approach the population mix of today’s many developed countries. Here we present a brief analysis and some insights into the age composition of a zero-growth society and the connectedness between total fertility rate, net reproduction rate and replacement level of fertility. Other formulas useful for demographic studies are also provided to further the analysis. Our results reveal that the age composition of China’s population in 2050 would be similar to those of some developed countries today. We argue that the misgivings about “population aging” or the fear of a “winter of humanity” in China stem from rather oversimplified estimations.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Song, J. (2013). Age Distribution of a Zero-Growth Population: Implications for China. Chinese Studies, 2, 77-83. doi: 10.4236/chnstd.2013.22011.


[1] Banister, J. (1998). Population, public health and the environment in China. The China Quarterly, 155, 985-1015.
[2] Banister, J., Bloom, D. E., & Rosenberg, L. (2010). Population aging and economic growth in China. Program on the Global Demography of Aging Working Paper No. 53. Boston: Harvard University.
[3] Cai, F., & Wang, M. (2005). Challenge facing China’s economic growth in its aging but not affluent era. China & World Economy, 14, 20-31. doi:10.1111/j.1749-124X.2006.00035.x
[4] Cohen, J. E. (1995). How many people can the earth support? New York: Norton & Co.
[5] George, A. (2009). 7 billion and counting… New Scientist, 203, 23-24. doi:10.1016/S0262-4079(09)62564-1
[6] Gu, D. & Vlosly, D. A. (2008). Long-term care needs and related issues in China. In J. B. Garner, & T. C. Christiansen (Eds.), Social sciences in health care and medicine (pp. 51-84). New York: Nova Publisher.
[7] Gu, D. (2000). Thoughts on the redefinition of the old people. Chinese Journal of Population Science, 3, 42-51. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.03.031
[8] Gu, D., Dupre, M. E., Warner, D., & Zeng, Y. (2009). Changing health status and health expectancies among older adults in China: Gender differences from 1992 to 2002. Social Science and Medicine, 58, 2170-2179.
[9] Hussain, A. (2002). Demographic transition in China and its implications. World Development, 30, 1823-1834. doi:10.1016/S0305-750X(02)00070-0
[10] Lee, R., & Mason, A. (2011). Population aging and the generational economy: A global perspective (pp. 151-184). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.
[11] Li, B. (2009). To overcome the greatest pass of the world. An interview with a Minister. Guang-Ming Daily, 15 September 2009 (In Chinese).
[12] Li, J. (2012). Commission head seeks to raise retirement age. China Daily.
[13] Mahadevan, K., Tuan, C.-H., Yu, J., Krishnan, P., & Sumangala, M. (1994). Differential development and demographic dilemma: Perspectives from China and India. Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation.
[14] Miller, T. (2011). The rise of the intergenerational state: Aging and development. In R. Lee & A. Mason (Eds.), Population aging and the generational economy: A global perspective (pp. 151-184). Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.
[15] Niu, W.-Y., & Harris, W. M. (1995). China: The forecast of its environmental situation in the 21st century. Journal of Environmental Management, 47, 101-114. doi:10.1006/jema.1996.0039
[16] Ogawa, N. (2008). The Japanese elderly as a social safety set. Asia-Pacific Population Journal, 23, 105-113.
[17] Poston Jr., D. L., & Zeng, Y. (2008). Introduction: Aging and aged dependency in China. In Y. Zeng, D. L. Poston Jr., D. Vlosky, & D. Gu (Eds.), Healthy longevity in China: Demographic, socioeconomic, and psychological dimensions (pp. 1-18). Dordrecht: Springer Publisher.
[18] Preston, S. H., Heuveline, P., & Guillot, M. (2001). Demography: Measuring and modeling population processes. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
[19] Qian, X. (1982). On system engineering. Beijing: Hunan Science and Technology Press (In Chinese).
[20] Raftery, A. E., N. Li, H. Sevcíková, P. Gerland, & Heilig, G. K. (2012). Bayesian probabilistic population projections for all countries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 13915-13921. doi:10.1073/pnas.1211452109
[21] Ryder, N. (1975). Notes on stationary populations. Population Index, 41, 3-28. doi:10.2307/2734140
[22] Song, J., & Yu, J. (1985). Population control theory. New York: Springer-Verlag.
[23] Song, J., & Yu, J. (1991). Double-edged limit of total fertility rates. Science China Chemistry, 34, 1354-1361.
[24] Song, J., (1982). Some developments in mathematical demography and their application to the People’s Republic of China. Theoretical Population Biology, 22, 470-479.
[25] Song, J., Yu, J., Wang, Y., Hu, S., Zhao, Z., Lia, J., Feng, D., & Zhu, G. (1982). Spectral properties of population operators and asymptotic behaviour of population semigroup. Acta Mathematica Scientia, 2, 480-489.
[26] United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) (2009). Fifth APPC-Progress in implementation and contribution to development goals. Asia-Pacific Population Journal, 24, 1-228.
[27] United Nations Population Division (UNPD) (2011). World population prospect 2010. New York: United Nations.
[28] Wang, F. (2005). Can China afford to continue its one-child policy? Asian Pacific Issues. No. 77. Honolulu, HI: East-West Center:
[29] Zeng, Y. (2007). Options of fertility policy transition in China. Population and Development Review, 33, 215-245. doi:10.1111/j.1728-4457.2007.00168.x
[30] Zeng, Y., & George, L. (2010). Population ageing and old-age insurance in china. In D. Dannefer, & C. Phillipson (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of social gerontology (pp. 420-430). London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
[31] Zhang, J. (2012). Proposal to push retirement age to 55.
[32] Zou, X., & Yang, X. (2009). The long-term impact on the Chinese economy of an aging population. Social Sciences in China, 30, 197-208. doi:10.1080/02529200802704027

comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2018 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.