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China’s Demographic Prospects: A UN Perspective


Cai, Yong (2012). China's Demographic Prospects: A UN Perspective. International Economic Review, 97(1), 73-81.


The United Nation’s World Population Prospects, the 2010 Revision, prepared by its population division, has made major adjustments in its population estimation and projection for China, based on anew Bayesian projection model. According to UN’s new projection, China’s population will peak in 2026 at 1.396 billion, followed by a rapid decline to 1.295 billion by 2050.UN’s projection demonstrates that China is moving rapidly to an ageing society and its demographic future will be determined by whether it will be able to raise its fertility in the next few decades. By examining UN’s population projection on China, we argue that, while population projection is a valuable tool in understanding demographic dynamics, it should never be used to dictate population policy. Population policy should focus on people, not numbers. Since China’s fertility rate has been below the replacement level for as many as 20 years, and is now lower than 1.5, policies need to be adjusted promptly; otherwise, the country risks falling into the "low fertility trap".

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Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

International Economic Review


Cai, Yong