A Closer Look

China / Ageing / Reserve army of peasants looking for work peaked in 2010

We can now discern more or less when the catch-up growth miracle will sputter out. Another seven years or so – enough to bouy global coal, crude, and copper prices for a while – but then it will all be over. China’s demographic dividend will be exhausted.

Beijing revealed last week that the country’s working age population has already begun to shrink, sooner than expected. It will soon go into “precipitous decline”, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Japan hit this inflexion point fourteen years ago, but by then it was already rich, with $3 trillion of net savings overseas. China has hit the wall a quarter century earlier in its development path.

The ageing crisis is well-known. It is already six years since a Chinese demographer shocked Davos with a warning that his country might have to resort to mass suicide in the end, shoving pensioners onto the ice.

Less known is the parallel – and linked – labour drain in the countryside. A new IMF paper – “Chronicle of a Decline Foretold: Has China Reached the Lewis Turning Point?” – says the reserve army of peasants looking for work peaked in 2010 at around 150 million. The numbers are now collapsing.

Choosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor from


via IMF sees 140m jobs shortage in ageing China as ‘Lewis Point’ hits – Telegraph.

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