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Aging of a giant: a stochastic population forecast for China, 2001-2050


  • Qiang Li

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Mieke Reuser

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Cornelia Kraus

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Juha Alho


This paper presents a stochastic population forecast for China with a special emphasis on population aging. Stochastic forecasting methods have the advantage of producing a projection of the future population including a probabilistic prediction interval. The socalled scaled model for error was used to quantify the uncertainty attached to the population predictions in this study. Data scarcity was a major problem in the specification of the expected error of the population forecast. Therefore, the error structures estimated for European countries were employed with some modifications taking the large size and heterogeneity of the Chinese population into account. The stochastic forecast confirms the expectation of extremely rapid population aging during the first half of the 21st century in China. The old age dependency ratio (OADR) will increase with certainty. By mid-century, with 80% probability, the OADR will lie between 0.41 and 0.56, with the median of the predictive distribution being 0.48, nearly five-fold its current value of 0.1. In particular, the oldest-old population will grow faster than any other age group. This development has major implications for China: to smoothly adjust current birth control policies to less restrictive ones, strengthen the family support system, and improve the social security system for the elderly.

Suggested Citation

  • Qiang Li & Mieke Reuser & Cornelia Kraus & Juha Alho, 2007. "Aging of a giant: a stochastic population forecast for China, 2001-2050," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2007-032, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2007-032

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francesco C. Billari & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2002. "Patterns of lowest-low fertility in Europe," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2002-040, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    2. Ajzen, Icek, 1991. "The theory of planned behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 179-211, December.
    3. Laura Bernardi & Andreas Klärner & Holger von der Lippe, 2006. "Perceptions of job instability and the prospects of parenthood. A comparison between Eastern and Western Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2006-017, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    4. Francesco C. Billari & Chris Wilson, 2001. "Convergence towards diversity? Cohort dynamics in the transition to adulthood in contemporary Western Europe," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-039, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    5. repec:cai:poeine:pope_202_0301 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Michaela Kreyenfeld, 2005. "Economic uncertainty and fertility postponement: evidence from German panel data," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2005-034, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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