Population advantage in the US-China competition
The US-China strategic competition has intensified, and China has recognized the severity of the population problem, including population aging, but more importantly, the population quality story.
Recently, some American scholars have argued that it is difficult for China to overtake the US in the end. One of the most important reasons is the population problem. According to the Chinese American scholar Di Phuc Hien, the Chinese economy will never overtake the US because, by 2021, China has had a population turning point, leading to a decline in growth. Due to the problem of population, China not only could not surpass the US in terms of total economic volume in 2028 as predicted but in 2035 also appeared the situation of the lower growth rate of Gross domestic product GDP) compared to that of the US.
Former Principal of the John F. Kennedy School of Public Administration, Ph.D. in political science, Joseph Nye also said that America has a population advantage. According to the author of “The Future of Power” which recommends a number of solutions to help America maintain its position as the world’s number one power, the US is one of the few developed countries to maintain population growth. In the long run, China, a country where people getting old before getting rich, will be difficult to surpass the US.
One of the reasons for population aging in China is the record low birth rate. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China on January 17, 2020, China’s population in 2019 officially exceeded the milestone of 1.4 billion people, but the birth rate set a new record low. Specifically, in 2019, there were only 10.48 newborn babies for every 1,000 Chinese people, the lowest level since the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949.
The population crisis bell is ringing once again, but according to data from the Ministry of Public Security of China released in early 2021, in 2020, the number of newborn babies in China decreased by 15% compared to 2019. Factors such as Child-rearing costs, high housing prices, lack of facilities to look after and raise children … have discouraged Chinese people’s desire to have children even after the country abolished the one-child policy in 2015.
For its part, China is aware of the gravity of the aging population problem. At the closing session of 2021, the National People’s Congress (National Assembly) of China approved the 14th Five-year Socio-economic Development Plan and a Proposal on the 2035 target perspective, the plan for the national strategy to actively respond to the aging population.
The first stated policy is to optimize the childbirth policy, promote a balanced long-term population development and improve the quality of the population. Strengthen infant and young child care services, increase the provision of preschool education, optimize compulsory education, and reduce pressure on families in terms of education.
Second, actively exploiting human resources for the elderly, developing a “silver-headed” economy (the economy of the elderly), promoting synchronous development of the cause of the nursing and the elderly care industry.
Third, promote basic nursing services and build a system of aged care services at home, at community facilities in combination with nursing homes.
Fourth, promote traditional culture, support the family to take on the function of caring for the elderly, bring into full play the family’s basic role in taking care of the elderly.
These measures do not have many new points. When China highlights its traditional culture of supporting families to care for the elderly, Singapore has adopted a policy many years ago to encourage three generations to live under one house. In addition, according to the China Times, the measures taken have not mentioned in terms of education, housing, job upgrading, rural construction …, so the level of interest has not been widespread.
Initially, the outside world predicted at the last Congress meeting, China will consider and even amend the retirement age, but the issue is not on the agenda. Currently, the legal retirement age for men in China is 60 and for women 55. Meanwhile, the legal retirement age in the US is 67, Germany and the UK is 65, South Korea is 61. In Japan, people retire at age 60 but start receiving a pension at the age of 65. Thus, compared to other key countries in the world, China is the country with the lowest retirement age. This not only causes a financial burden on the country but also wastes human resources.
China is pursuing a comprehensive national renaissance while the great rivalry between China and the US is intensifying. China has realized the severity of the population problem and has moved to a strategic level that needs to be pushed forward. But it must be seen that population is not the only determinant of a nation’s strength. Japan and Germany have long faced an aging population but still, stand firmly in third and fourth place on the list of the world’s largest economies. Meanwhile, India, which closely follows China in terms of population size, although ranked fifth in the world, but the total economic volume is still far behind China.
Population problems in Vietnam
The results of Vietnam’s Census in 2019 show that the proportion of the population aged 15-64 years old accounts for 68.0% (down 1.1 percentage points compared to 2009), the proportion of the population aged under 15 years and over 65 accounts for 24.3% and 7.7% respectively. Thus, Vietnam is in the period of “golden population structure” when there are two people of working age for every dependent person. It is forecasted that by 2040, Vietnam will end the period of “golden population structure.”
Although the golden population structure period creates many advantages and strengths, it also posed many difficulties and challenges that need to be solved. In addition to improving the skill level of workers to improve the quality of human resources to meet the needs of the labor market, especially in the context of the technology revolution 4.0, connecting market supply and demand, labor, the reduction of pressure on underemployment, social order and security should continue to be paid attention.
In Vietnam, due to the change in the age structure of the population following the decreasing trend of the proportion of children under 15 years old and the increase in the proportion of the population aged 60 and over, the aging index tends to increase rapidly over the past two decades: The aging index in 2019 is 48.8%, an increase of 13.3 percentage points compared to 2009 and more than two times higher than 1999. The aging index tends to continue. continued to increase in the coming years.
As many experts have warned, Vietnam is not rich yet, but its population is already aging. And from 2054 – 2069, Vietnam will go through a very old population stage, when people aged 65 and over account for 20-29.9%. Vietnam is also considered a country that has time to move from “population aging” to “aging population” into the fast group in the world, the forecast is 20 years, while Japan and China are 26 years, the UK and Spain 45 years.
The Mekong River Delta and Red River Delta are the two regions with the highest aging index in the country (58.5% and 57.4% respectively). The Central Highlands has the lowest aging index compared to the rest of the country (28.1%).
Population aging is becoming one of the topics of concern not only in Vietnam but around the world. Population aging will affect most areas of social life including the labor market, finance, demand for goods and services, education, social security, and health care. healthy for the elderly.
The results of the Census in 2019 also show that, in the past 10 years, our country’s overall dependency ratio has increased by 2.4 percentage points, mainly due to the increase in the population aged 65 and over.
Thus, the aging issue is posing a challenge for Vietnam when its aging rate is fast in the context that Vietnam is still a low middle-income country. Therefore, it is necessary to have policies to ensure adaptation to the aging population. In particular, improving health care for the elderly and social security system, labor policies for the elderly but are still participating in economic activities to help solve social problems, improve living standards, contribute to promoting production of goods and services, increase production scale.