The Greying of the Middle Kingdom: The Demographics and Economics of Retirement Policy in China

1. Introduction

China is about to undergo a stunning demographic transformation. Today, China is still a young society. In 2004, the elderly — here defined as adults aged 60 and over — make up just 11% of the population. By 2040, however, the UN projects that the share will rise to 28%, a larger elder share than it projects for the United States2 (see Fig. 1). In absolute numbers, the magnitude of China’s coming age wave is staggering. By 2040, assuming current demographic trends continue, there will be 397 million Chinese elders, which is more than the total current population of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined.
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