Growing Rich Without Growing Old: The Impact of Internal Migration in China

Mengni Chen
Chris Lloyd, The University of Melbourne
Paul Yip, The University of Hong Kong

In 2017, about 10.6% of the total population in China were aged 65 or above, making it an “aging” society. Its elderly dependence ratio (EDR) exhibits wide and unusual spatial variation within the nation. In this study, we investigate the spatial pattern of EDR across 31 provinces in 2000 and 2010, based on a decomposition analysis. The analysis helps to attribute the EDR change to four factors: migration, mortality, population momentum, and the growth of elderly population. It shows that the impacts of internal migration offset or even reverse the regional differentials in fertility and mortality, thus leading to an unusual aging pattern in China. More developed provinces attract young workers which has reduced the EDR despite persistent low fertility; whereas less developed provinces see young workers outflow, increasing the EDR despite the relatively high fertility rate. This explains the exceptional phenomenon of “grow rich without growing old” in China.

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization