By the author of the acclaimed Stumbling Giant: the Threat
to China’s Future

Ageing Giant

China’s Looming Population Collapse

Timothy Beardson

Before the end of the present century the population of China – currently around 1.4 billion – is forecast to drop to around half that level as a major and unprecedented demographic crisis begins to bite. Its working-age population has already stopped growing and is now well into a process of contraction. Increasing longevity means that by the 2050s there will be more than 400 million Chinese citizens over the age of 65 – with little provision for their care in a society where a single child is now the norm. The ratio of the retired to those working is steadily rising, putting pressure on families and the public finances.

Years of preference for a male child has seen the creation of a skewed sex ratio at birth that already guarantees well over 50 million surplus adult males, unmarried and unhappy, in the coming years. This is more than the entire male population of Germany.

The state has previously sought to impose its will on reproduction, but Chinese families experienced a sharply reduced birthrate even before the introduction of the notorious one-child policy. And despite the lifting of restrictions on the number of children allowed, births remain stubbornly low. As Timothy Beardson shows in this timely and fascinating new book, the Chinese people have largely ignored official policy, as trends in urbanization, employment and education alter traditional demographic patterns. China in fact reflects a clearly identifiable shift in the whole world of moving from high to low fertility.  

This book is the first to examine in detail China’s demographic history and the impending crisis that will see more people in the United States by 2100 than in China. It explains how China’s ageing and shrinking population will affect such widely disparate areas as the ethics of business, artificial intelligence and the combat-worthiness of the military – not to mention China’s overall place in the modern world. 

Timothy Beardson (1951-2020) was the founder of Crosby Financial Holdings, the first international investment bank to open in China, Malaysia and Thailand in modern times and the only one invited to participate in the working party to set up the Shanghai Stock Exchange. His 2013 book, Stumbling Giant: the Threat to China’s Future, (Yale) examines whether or not China will replace the US as the next superpower.

£18.99 hardback

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320 pp
June 2021
ISBN: 9781909930988