Those who foresee China’s eventual economic triumph over the United States might want to read the latest Forbes column from Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore. It decries the long-term impact of China’s government-mandated one-child policy.
More than 20 of China’s top demographers, sociologists and economists have submitted petitions to the government advocating putting an end to the one-child policy. But even if its leaders wanted to top up the population with immigrants, China wouldn’t be able to find the numbers needed to send its population into a stable replacement mode.
The mind-set behind the one-child policy dates back to the days following the Cultural Revolution, when China suffered huge shortages in food and resources and people believed a population explosion loomed. Unfortunately the population decline this policy has brought about will be difficult to reverse. There’s little likelihood that China’s women will return to a TFR of 2.1, as highly educated women who earn large salaries don’t want to be burdened with two or more children. They marry later, in their 30s, and delay childbirth in order to enjoy life, especially travel to foreign countries. Worse, many women do not marry at all. Some estimates are that 10% of women in China remain single. In Singapore it’s 20%.
In every country–developing and developed–the older, more aged the workforce, the lower the overall level of entrepreneurship and creativity.