ter 6.2 in 1995. By 2050 one out
ter Twentieth Century In ChinaFrom the 3.68 billion people that will be added to the world population between 1995 and 2050, Asia will contribute some 2 billion. This enormous increase is due to the already massive size of the population. Most of this growth will occur in the next three decades. Between 1995 and 2025 Asia’s population will grow by 1.35 billion – between 2025 and 2050 the increase is projected to be just 658 million. China is the world’s largest population, estimated to be around 1.24 billion in 1998. It grows at a rate of 1.3% per year or 44,100 people a day. There are now more people living in China than whole world 150 years ago. The population broke the billion mark in the 1982 census, the results of which provided the justification for the strict one-child policy which effectively curbed rapid population growth. In the 1990 census, China counted 1.133 billion people, over the next decades the world population will inevitably age. This is an unavoidable consequence of large birth cohorts during the 1950s and 1960s and the rapid fertility decline since the 1970s. In 2025 the baby boomers of the 1950s and 60s will be between 65 and 75 years of age. These large aging cohorts are followed by the relatively small baby bust generations of the worldwide fertility decline. In 1950 there were only 131 million people of age 65 and older; in 1995 their number had almost tripled and was estimated at 371 million. Between now and 2025 the number will more than double again; and by 2050 we will probably have more than 1.4 billion elderly The percentage of elderly increased from 5.2 in 1950 to 6.2 in 1995. By 2050 one out of ten people worldwide will be 65 years of age or more. While currently population aging is most serious in Europe and Japan, China will experience a dramatic increase in the proportion of elder people by the middle of the next century. This is largely due to the country’s success in family planning, which rapidly reduced the relative size of birth cohorts since the 1970s.The future number of people on the globe, evidently, is an important antropogenic factor of global change. However, even more important the changes that need to happen in order to help solve China’s growing population.
Admittedly, China is already an aging society by international standard: the number of people aged 60 and over accounts for more than 10% of the total population; those aged 80 and over number 8 million and that number still grows by 5.4% annually. Additionally, the traditional ethics that prevailed in China for the past millenniums are eroding amidst rapid social transformations touched off by the market-driven reforms. It is no longer morally appealing, nor economically feasible, for children to support their elderly parents at home. Economists estimate, for example, that by 2050, two working people will have to support an elderly citizen. Reflecting the changing times, old people are increasingly willing to be on their own for care. A random survey conducted by reporters of Liaoning Daily, the largest newspaper in north China’s Liaoning Province, yielded some insights into how old folks in China today plan to take care of themselves. The survey showed that most senior citizens prefer self-care as opposed to home care — staying with children for care. Of the 30 people interviewed at random at one morning exercise session in June 1999, 77% were aged 70-79, 13% 60-69 and 10% over 80. In living choices, 70% live by themselves. Even among the nine spouseless, six (67%) live alone. Economically, 73% live on their own pensions, 17% on the pensions of their spouse, 5% on children and another 5% on relatives. In daily life, their spouse or themselves care 67%. For social life, though, there was greater diversity.
Human resource is the key to socio-economic development. Currently, however, western China is being bogged down by a fast-growing population, an incompetent work force and an irrational population structure. To achieve sustainable development, the issue of population development and family planning must be addressed first. Beginning in late 1978 the Chinese leadership