The economic data coming out of China of late isn’t great. Gross domestic product chugged on at a decidedly sluggish pace of 0.8% in the second quarter, consumer spending is meh at best and the country’s exporters aren’t feeling any more cheerful.

That doesn’t bode well for the overall economy going forward. And if Texas A&M’s Dudley Poston is to be believed – and he should be – there is more pain to come. Poston isn’t an economist, but his research as a demographer highlights a key point: China is losing its workforce. In 2022, the Asian giant registered more deaths than births. Worse, the number of babies being born is now so low that the country has entered a “low fertility trap” out of which policymakers will struggle to escape. In short, China is heading toward a rapidly aging society, with fewer people in the workforce and many more elderly dependents.

The good news is there is a solution: immigration. The bad news? Beijing seems unwilling to walk down that path. Unfriendly attitudes and policies toward overseas workers means that just 0.1% of the country’s residents are immigrants. Compare this with the U.S. or Germany in which 14% and 18% of the population, respectively, are people born overseas.

“Relaxing immigration policy will not only boost numbers, it will also offset any drop in productivity caused by an aging population,” Poston writes, adding: “Immigrants are typically of prime working age and very productive; they also tend to have more babies than native-born residents.”

Matt Williams

Senior International Editor, The Conversation U.S.

China needs immigrants

Dudley L. Poston Jr., Texas A&M University

Chinese politicians have looked toward policies to encourage couples to have more children to offset population decline. It hasn’t worked.

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  • "A meaningful job can be one that allows you to have a good work-life balance, or one that comes with high pay. It could be a job that helps others, or one that lets you express yourself creatively. It could also be a job that facilitates your personal growth, or a job that contributes to the greater good."

    – Marina Milosheva, PhD Candidate, Social Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University, from her story Why it’s so difficult to figure out what to do with your life – and three steps to take






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