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China's population is becoming older faster than many had predicted, with new census data likely to strengthen opposition to the Chinese regime's controversial one-child policy. It shows China's population growth is slowing down, with a social and economic cost of having fewer young people to care for the old.
Over the past decade, China's export sector has been powered by millions of young workers.
But China's population is getting older, mostly due to the communist regime's controversial one-child policy.
Census figures released on Thursday put China's population at 1.34 billion, with a larger proportion of people older than 60.
Demographer Wang Feng from the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy says the median age of the Chinese population is now 34 years old. By 2050, half the population will be 50 or older.
[Wang Feng, Director of Brookings Tsinghua Center for Public Policy]:
"Such low fertility and population growth means that China will face a smaller cohort of young labor for labor supply in the future, and also a much more serious aging process than people anticipated even ten years ago or two decades ago."
This means China's population could age before it gets rich, stifling efforts to increase domestic consumption.
It could strengthen opposition to the one-child policy that has involved forced abortions and sterilizations since the Chinese Communist Party introduced it in the late 70s.
China's population has grown by 5.9 percent in the past decade, about half the rate of the previous decade.