China's worker-to-retiree ratio will be as bad as West's come 2050
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 10:39AM
Thomas P.M. Barnett in Chart of the day, China, demographics

Fascinating chart.  When you run the numbers globally, the worker-to-retiree ratio was 12 to 1 in 1950 and 9 to 1 in 2000.  But when you jump ahead to 2050, it's down globally to 5 to 1.

But then you note the distinctions:

Now, you look at that and think China's doing okay, but as my research into the mean age by nation shows, China moves from the mid-age cohort (where it exists with US now at about 36 years old) to the old-age cohort (Russia, Europe, Japan) by 2050, when China's mean age will be 47-48 years old and the US will still be just under 40 years old (thanks to higher birth rate and immigration).

Well, this chart confirms how unique China is among the New Core "risers" just as the US is unique among the Old Core great powers.

Among the Old Core powers, the US simply doesn't age like the rest:  by 2050, the US mean age is still a hair below 40 while the rest are all deep into the 40s.

And among the New Core powers, China will suffer a PSR (potential support ratio) come 2050 that's more in line with the Old Core's 2-to-1 PSR instead of the New Core's 5-to-1.

Further proof that China gets old before truly rich, or perhaps better said, by the time it gets rich, it'll be as old as the old West (with only Japan serving as demographic lead goose, as it does today).

And - again - truth be told, China should track Japan as its future, far more than the US should ever feel it should.

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