In order to reduce China’s growing population of 1.3 billion citizens (The World Bank, 2016), the government implemented a one-child policy that lasted for four decades (Juan, 2016). As a result of this, China’s population is now 400 million people smaller (Hodin, 2015). However several long term effects have risen where due to a lack of new borns, the Chinese population is ageing rapidly, causing mass economic and social effects. With a the younger generation a smaller size than its elders the country is now in a place where its workforce is becoming quite limiting for all. The older generation seeks to postpone their retirement for their family whilst the youth are becoming more and more weary of the responsibilities they must take once they become the sole source of income for their family.
As a way to fix this ageing problem, the Chinese government passed a now two-child policy earlier this year to reduce the responsibilities of the upcoming generation. Allowing their citizens to have a second child or the opportunity to have two children has caused a baby boom, sparking a long term effort in reducing China’s ageing population.
However, while this new generation is growing, the current baby boomers of China will ultimately reach retirement age where “the country will transition from having a… youthful population, and an abundant workforce, to a population with far fewer people in their productive prime.” (French, 2016) This would hinder the country’s economic growth as the workforce will begin to shrink due to their reliance on the older workers.
This socio-economic issue is quite unique to China and can be seen as an opportunity for the design community. We have the ability to find a solution that would need to help the elderly and yet benefit the generations after them. By posing questions such as , ‘how might we ease the baby boomers into retirement whilst keeping the size of the Chinese workforce?’ we can begin to design smart solutions that would benefit the Chinese society.
One policy China could implement is a way to slow down the retirement age by allowing those almost reaching this stage to reduce their weekly working hours for a slow transition into retirement with a small pension. By doing so, the older generation is able to teach the youth their modes and methods of work. The youth will then be able to gain knowledge passed down from the retirees and the baby boomers can ease into retirement, slowly adopting their new way of life.
Perhaps China needs to provide better services in their age care, while the baby boomers move into retirement the health and wellbeing industry would boom. This could open up a lot of career opportunities for our generation. New jobs in the health industry could slow down the shrinking workforce as well as helping the elderly and those part of the new two-child policy.
French, H. 2016, China’s Twilight Years, The Atlantic. viewed 2 November 2016, <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/chinas-twilight-years/480768/>.
Hodin, M. 2015, How China Can Deal with Its Rapidly Aging Population, The Fiscal Times. viewed 4 November 2016, <http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2015/11/03/How-China-Can-Deal-Its-Rapidly-Aging-Population>.
Juan, S. 2016, China’s two-child policy beginning to offer hope of addressing aging issue, The Jakarta Post. viewed 4 November 2016, <http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/10/31/chinas-two-child-policy-beginning-to-offer-hope-of-addressing-aging-issue.html>.
Nikolova, M. 2016, Two solutions to the challenges of population aging | Brookings Institution, Brookings. viewed 3 November 2016, <https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2016/05/02/two-solutions-to-the-challenges-of-population-aging/>.
Pettinger, T. 2016, The impact of an ageing population on the economy | Economics Help, Economicshelp.org. viewed 3 November 2016, <http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/8950/society/impact-ageing-population-economy/>.
Population, total | Data 2016, Data.worldbank.org. viewed 30 October 2016, <http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=CN>.