China’s Demographics at a Turning Point


For decades, the decline in China’s birth rate was a big boost for the economy. What now?

This week, schadenfreude could have been a word invented for China experts if you judge by some of the commentary surrounding the country’s lifting of its one-child policy. Most got it right that the legacy of the one-child policy is now a problem for the Chinese economy because of a rapidly rising old-age dependency ratio (green line in the first chart below). This was tacitly acknowledged by the lifting of the policy.  read more »


Too Many Places Will Have too Few People


The adage “demographics are destiny” is increasingly being replaced by a notion that population trends should actually shape policy. As the power of projection grows, governments around the world find themselves looking to find ways to counteract elaborate and potentially threatening population models before they become reality.  read more »

End Of One-Child Policy Is Unlikely To Solve China's Looming Aging Crisis


By finally backing away from its one-child policy, China would seem to be opening the gates again to demographic expansion. But it may prove an opening that few Chinese embrace, for a host of reasons.

Initially, the one-child policy made great sense. The expansion of China’s power under Mao Zedong was predicated in part on an ever-growing population. Between 1950 and 1990, the country’s Maoist era, the population, roughly doubled to 1.2 billion, according to U.N. figures. Deng Xiaoping’s move to limit population growth turned out to be a wise policy, at least initially, allowing China to focus more on industrialization and less on feeding an ever-growing number of mouths.  read more »


China Catches Cold: What That Means For The Rest Of Us


For the last century, one enduring cliché has been that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. But now the big power with the sniffles is China.

China’s rise has been the most profound development of the past half century, turning a moribund, rural country into a highly urbanized economic superpower. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, and markets around the world reshaped. China alone accounted for a whopping 24.1% of global economic growth from 2003 to 2013. according to the IMF.  read more »


500 Years of GDP: A Tale of Two Countries


Last year (2014), China overtook the United States in gross domestic product adjusted for purchasing power (GDP-PPP, see point 4 for explanation), according to both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (Note 1).  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Jing-Jin-Ji (Dispersing Beijing)


China's cities continue to add population at a rapid rate, despite a significant slowdown in population growth. Although overall population is expected to peak around 2030, the urban population will continue growing until after 2050. China’s cities will be adding more than 250 million new residents in the next quarter century, according to United Nations projections. China's cities will add nearly as many people as live in Indonesia, the world's fourth largest country, more than live in Brazil and 10 times as many as live in Australia.  read more »

Blaming Foreigners for Unaffordable Housing


In a number of Western world cities, there is rising concern about foreign housing purchases which may be driving up prices for local residents. Much of the attention is aimed at mainland Chinese buyers in metropolitan areas where housing is already pricier than elsewhere. The concern about housing affordability is legitimate. However, blaming foreigners misses the point, which is that the rising prices are to a large degree the result of urban containment policies implemented by governments.  read more »

China's Shifting Population Growth Patterns


As demographers have projected for some time, China's population growth is slowing. The nation gained population at a rate of 0.49% between 2010 and 2013, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. This is a reduction from the rate of 0.57% between 2000 and 2010. Further growth rate declines are expected until the 2030s when the total population, according to United Nations projections, will actually begin to decline.  read more »

10 Most Affluent Cities in the World: Macau and Hartford Top the List


The United States and Europe continue to dominate the list of strongest metropolitan areas (city) economies in the world, according to the Brookings Institution's recently released Global Metro Monitor 2014. This is measured by gross domestic product per capita, adjusted for purchasing power parity (GDP-PPP).  read more »

Planning a Trip to China


Recently concluded agreements between the United States and China have led to easing of visa restrictions, which is expected to lead to tourist volume increases in both directions. As a frequent traveler to China, I have found that organized groups – the simplest way to travel in China – far too confining and have avoided their use with the exception of travel to a Great Wall site in the Beijing area.  read more »