La población decrépita de China

Parece que el gobierno chino por fin está reconociendo los desafíos urgentes que plantea el envejecimiento de la población del país. El 12 de diciembre hizo público un libro blanco sobre el problema redactado a nivel del gabinete –el primero de su tipo—en un intento por hacer frente a la perspectiva de los costos crecientes de seguridad social y atención de la salud, un mercado laboral en contracción y otros obstáculos potenciales al mantenimiento del rápido crecimiento económico.

Mirando hacia atrás, es irónico que la política draconiana de “un solo hijo” del gobierno chino, adoptada en 1979, se haya aplicado al mismo tiempo que la política de “puertas abiertas”, orientada a atraer inversión extranjera en el sector manufacturero intensivo en mano de obra. Si bien se debe considerar que ambas políticas fueron exitosas, a lo largo de los años el programa de planificación familiar ha contribuido al envejecimiento de la población que puede disminuir el atractivo de China como un centro de producción intensivo en mano de obra de bajo costo.

Durante las casi tres décadas desde que se adoptó la política de “un solo hijo”, el número de niños nacidos vivos ha caído de 22.5 millones por año a principios de los 1980 a alrededor de 16-17 millones para mediados de la presente década. Además, con el creciente número de ancianos debido al aumento de las expectativas de vida, esta baja tasa de nacimientos ha significado que los mayores de 64 años hayan pasado del 4.9% al 7.7 % de la población.

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