Animated Chart: China’s Aging Population (1950-2100)
China’s Aging Population Problem
The one-child policy defined China’s demographic transition for over three decades.
But to combat an aging population and declining birthrates, the government scrapped the policy for a new two-child policy in 2016. Despite this massive change, China still faces a growing demographic crisis.
The above animated population pyramid from James Eagle looks at the distribution of China’s population by age group since 1950, with projections up to the year 2100.
How the One-Child Policy Created a Gender Imbalance
Until 2016, the Chinese government strictly enforced the one-child policy since 1979 with hefty fines for any breach of rules. According to the government, the policy reduced 400 million births over the years.
However, it also led to sex-selective abortions due to a deep-rooted cultural preference for boys. As a result, China’s gender balance tilted, with a sex ratio of 111 males to 100 females in the population aging from 0 to 4 years old in 2020.
Often termed “the missing women of China”, this shortage of women is expected to worsen over time. According to the U.N.’s World Population Prospects, China is projected to have around 244 million fewer women than men in 2050.
Additionally, the country faces another impending consequence of the one-child policy—a rapidly aging population.
Why China’s Population is Aging
In 2020, China’s fertility rate—the number of children a woman is expected to have over her lifetime—stood at 1.3.
Generally, fertility rates drop as economies develop. However, China’s fertility rate is now lower than that of the U.S. (1.64 in 2020) and on par with countries like Japan and Italy, both of which are facing aging populations. Consequently, fewer newborns are entering the population, while many in the workforce approach retirement.
Most Chinese workers retire by age 60. Here’s how China’s retirement-age population is expected to shape up by the year 2100:
|Year||60+ Population||% of Total Population|
In 2021, people aged 60 and over made up nearly one-fifth of the Chinese population. As the country’s population begins declining around 2030, over 30% of all Chinese people are expected to be in this age group.
China’s aging population threatens long-term economic growth as its workforce shrinks and low fertility rates result in fewer newborns that would later enter the working-age population. Fewer working people means lower overall consumption, a higher burden on elderly care, and slowing economic growth.
So, how will China respond to the oncoming crisis?
The Three-child Policy
According to the 2020 national census, Chinese mothers gave birth to 12 million children in 2020—the lowest number of births since 1949.
In response to these results, the government passed a new law allowing each couple to have up to three children. Despite the change, the high cost of raising a child may deter couples from having a third child.
It remains to be seen how the three-child policy helps combat China’s demographic crisis and which other policies the government chooses to deploy.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Ranked: The Cities with the Most Skyscrapers in 2023
We rank the world’s leading cities with the most skyscrapers, highlighting China’s remarkable dominance in building vertically.
Ranked: The Cities with the Most Skyscrapers in 2023
When it comes to soaring skylines and architectural marvels, no country has embraced the vertical revolution quite like China.
In this graphic, which uses data from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), we reveal the 25 cities with the most skyscrapers and supertall buildings globally.
Unsurprisingly, China’s cities dominate the list, solidifying the country’s reputation as a global powerhouse of tall buildings.
The 25 Top Cities by Skyscraper Count
Topping the charts is Hong Kong, with an impressive 657 skyscrapers, including six supertalls (buildings over 300 meters tall).
|Rank||City||Country||Skyscrapers (>150m)||Supertalls (>300m)|
|1||Hong Kong||🇨🇳 China||657||6|
|3||New York City||🇺🇸 United States||421||16|
|4||Dubai||🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates||395||28|
|7||Kuala Lumpur||🇲🇾 Malaysia||211||5|
|11||Chicago||🇺🇸 United States||178||7|
|22||Busan||🇰🇷 South Korea||106||4|
|23||Seoul||🇰🇷 South Korea||104||2|
Hong Kong, along with Shenzhen (#2), and Guangzhou (#5) are part of the burgeoning megacity known as the Pearl River Delta, which is home to over 1,500 skyscrapers. This is even more impressive when considering that Shenzhen was a small fishing village until the 1970s.
New York City secures the third position on the list, boasting an impressive tally of 421 skyscrapers. Although it may have relinquished its title to Chinese cities, the city’s skyline endures as a globally renowned symbol, prominently featuring the iconic Empire State Building. Notably, while the Empire State Building enjoys widespread familiarity, it no longer ranks among the world’s 50 tallest structures.
Rounding out the top five is Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which grabs the fourth position with 395 skyscrapers, a staggering 28 of which are supertalls. This desert oasis has become synonymous with grandiose architecture and record-breaking structures, exemplified by the Burj Khalifa, which is the world’s current tallest building at 828 meters (2,715 ft).
China’s Numbers in Context
Looking at this data from another perspective, China actually has more skyscrapers on this list than the rest of the world combined.
|Country||Cities in Top 25||Skyscrapers||Supertalls|
|🌐 Rest of World||13||2350||67|
China’s rapid urbanization, economic growth, and ambitious construction projects have fueled this impressive feat. There’s no doubt that the country’s relentless pursuit of vertical development, coupled with its booming population and thriving cities, has positioned China as the unrivaled leader in the global skyscraper race.
The Future of the Global Skyline
As the world continues to reach new heights in architectural marvels, there are even more supertall skyscrapers in the pipeline that will reshape skylines across the globe.
From the soaring Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, poised to surpass the Burj Khalifa as the world’s tallest building, to the remarkable Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur, which is set to claim the title of the world’s second-tallest structure when it opens in June 2023, these projects will captivate city dwellers for years to come.
Even as these new monumental buildings rise, China’s prominence in the world of skyscrapers—with three cities in the top five globally—is likely to remain unchallenged.
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