China population (iii) - the scar of Great Leap Forward

This is a graph of China's 1982, 2000, and projection on 2050.

It is from Feng and Mason study. "The Effect of China's One-Child Family Policy after 25 Years". The objective is to study the effect of population aging on China's productive population and retiree/dependents. The 3 graphs belows shows the profile of working population and supported people by age.
  • "reallocation to children" means the amount of production used to support children; similarly for elderly. (see pp19 of the research for legends and explanation)
  • AY is the average of age of production population (mean of the blue curve)
  • AC is the average of age of consumption population (mean of the pink curve)
  • You can see that AC moves from 28 (1982) to 33 (2000) to 44 (2005), and it overtook AY a few years before 2005. That means the dependent population shift from children into elderly.
China' population curve is not continuous. There is a deep (about 1/3 lower than an interpolation curve) crack from age 20-24 in the 1982 graph (which is the same as the crack for 38-42 in 2000 graph). This is due to the famine in 1959-1962, higher infant mortality and mainly lower birth rate (fertility) rate due to mal-nutrition and less willingness to reproduce. This is the scar left by Great Leap Forward. The birth+survival rate was 1/3 lower for people born during those 3-4 years. The "scar" will only fade away in around 2050, which coincidentally would be about time China steps into the rank of developed world, hopefully.

Update: The population profile (2000 curve) dips again at age=10-30 range (i.e. those born in 1970-1990, this time much wider and smoother. I am not sure if I have the full explanation. One possibility is the one-child policy started in early 1980s, the other is the secondary effect of the crack of 1959-1961, because there are comparatively less people to give brith to the next generation in 1980-1995. However, the secondary effect shoule be very small, i.e. 30%x3 years spread through 15-20 years means 5-6% lower than the interpolated line.


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