China may face a labor shortfall as early as 2021 due to a rapidly aging population as the results of the one-child policy, started in the 1970s, begin to bite, an expert said Tuesday.
China's labor population will show a downward trend as workers born during the baby boom in the 1960-70s begin to retire in 2021, Yao Meixiong, deputy head of the Center for Population Census of Fujian Provincial Bureau of Statistics, was quoted as saying by Yicai.com.
By the end of 2014, China had 212 million people aged above 60, accounting for 15.5 percent of the total, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
"Young labor resources between the age of 20 to 34 will plunge year by year from 2021. The drop could amount to 11 million each year from 2022 to 2025. By 2030, the youth labor force at this rate will drop to 221 million, 32 percent or 104 million fewer than 2010," said Yao.
He said the population under 14 years old only accounted for 16.5 percent of the country's total, compared with the world's average of 27 percent.
The population of workers aged between 16 and 59 shrank by 3.71 million year on year in 2014, official data showed.
Yao pointed out that a gender imbalance could also be problematic. "For people less than 19 years old in 2010, 172 million were males, 22.1 million more than females. This means about 10 percent of male youths will find it hard to find female spouses beginning in 2020."
China partially lifted the one-child policy during a pilot program in Zhejiang province in January 2014, allowing couples to have a second child if either parent is an only child. The policy expanded nationwide at the beginning of 2015.
However, Yao said the policy is not enough to fill the future labor shortfall as couples qualified to bear a second child are not always willing to do so.