Demographic Change and the Labour Supply Constraint
China’s economic growth has, hitherto, depended on its relative abundance of production labour and its increasingly secure investment environment. Within the next decade, however, China's labour force will begin to contract. This will set its economy apart from other developing Asian countries where relative labour abundance will increase, as will relative capital returns. Unless there is a substantial change in population policy, the retention of China’s large share of global FDI will require further improvements in its investment environment, in its factor productivity and/or in its labour force participation rates. The links between demographic change, labour participation rates and growth performance are explored here using a new global demographic model that is integrated with an adaptation of the GTAP-Dynamic global economic model in which regional households are disaggregated by age and gender. China’s share of global investment, and hence its growth rate in per capita terms, is found to depend sensitively on its labour force growth and this, in turn, depends on both fertility and labour force participation. Rates of aged participation are low in China but likely to increase and this could offset the growth-retarding effects of fertility decline and ageing.
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