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Abundant labor force continues to underpin economy

By Zhou Lanxu chinadaily.com.cn Updated: 2021-05-12
Workers are busy at the construction site of a smart factory in the economic and technological development zone in Yinchuan, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, on May 1, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Chinese economy remains abundant in labor resources with a working-age population of 880 million, but challenges have arisen from slower population growth and accelerated population aging, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.

The country's population is still "young and vibrant" with an average age of 38.8 years old, compared with 38 years old in the United States, said Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS, referring to the results of China's seventh national population census carried out late last year.

According to the census, the country's working-age population, aged between 16 and 59 years old, stood at as large as 880 million in 2020, accounting for 62.4 percent of the nation's total population of 1.41 billion and providing a key foundation for economic development.

Yet the 880 million marked a reduction of more than 40 million compared with 2010 amid accelerated population aging. China's population aged 60 and above topped 260 million last year and represented 18.7 percent of the total population, up by 5.44 percentage points from 2010, the census said.

"The country remains rich in labor resource and retains the advantage of a large population. But the working-age population has declined slowly year by year, making it necessary for economic structure and technological development to make adjustments accordingly," Ning said at a news conference on Tuesday.

China's population is expected to grow slower and will peak at some time, but should remain above 1.4 billion for a period of time, he said.

The demographic changes have represented both challenges and opportunities for economic development, Ning said. The growing silver generation, for instance, will mean a shrinking labor force and higher pressure faced by public goods provision, but also will bring about growth points in consumption by catering to the needs of the aged.

The country will systemically deal with the trend of population aging and actively react to any risks and challenges brought by demographic changes, he said.

Ning added that the census showed that China remains the world's most populous country, while its population has become more educated and concentrated in major city clusters.