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China’s Demography and its Implications

  • Il Houng Lee
  • Xu Qingjun
  • Murtaza H. Syed
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    In coming decades, China will undergo a notable demographic transformation, with its old-age dependency ratio doubling to 24 percent by 2030 and rising even more precipitously thereafter. This paper uses the permanent income hypothesis to reassess national savings behavior, with greater prominence and more careful consideration given to the role played by changing demography. We use a forward-looking and dynamic approach that considers the entire population distribution. We find that this not only holds up well empirically but may also be superior to the static dependency ratios typically employed in the literature. Going further, we simulate global savings behavior based on our framework and find that China’s demographics should have induced a negative current account in the 2000s and a positive one in the 2010s given the rising share of prime savers, only turning negative around 2045. The opposite is true for the United States and Western Europe. The observed divergence in current account outcomes from the simulated path appears to have been partly policy induced. Over the next couple of decades, individual countries’ convergence toward the simulated savings pattern will be influenced by their past divergences and future policy choices. Other implications arising from China’s demography, including the growth model, the pension system, the labor market, and the public finances are also briefly reviewed.

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    Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 13/82.

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    Length: 27
    Date of creation: 28 Mar 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:13/82
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    1. Charles Yuji Horioka & Junmin Wan, 2007. "The Determinants of Household Saving in China: A Dynamic Panel Analysis of Provincial Data," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(8), pages 2077-2096, December.
    2. Charles Yuji Horioka & Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, 2011. "The Determinants and Long-term Projections of Saving Rates in Developing Asia," NBER Working Papers 17581, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Dirk Krueger & Alexander Ludwig, 2006. "On the Consequences of Demographic Change for Rates of Returns to Capital, and the Distribution of Wealth and Welfare," NBER Working Papers 12453, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Selo Imrohoroglu & Kaiji Chen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 2005. "Japanese Saving Rate," 2005 Meeting Papers 747, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Charles Yuji Horioka, 2010. "Aging And Saving In Asia," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 46-55, 02.
    6. Guonan Ma & Wang Yi, 2010. "China's high saving rate: myth and reality," BIS Working Papers 312, Bank for International Settlements.
    7. Il Houng Lee & Woon Gyu Choi, 2010. "Monetary Transmission of Global Imbalances in Asian Countries," IMF Working Papers 10/214, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Franco Modigliani & Shi Larry Cao, 2004. "The Chinese Saving Puzzle and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 145-170, March.
    9. Chadwick C. Curtis & Steven Lugauer & Nelson C. Mark, 2011. "Demographic Patterns and Household Saving in China," NBER Working Papers 16828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:cii:cepiei:2010-2ta is not listed on IDEAS
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