, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 21-50,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 17 Feb 2009

Ageing of a giant: a stochastic population forecast for China, 2006–2060


This paper presents a stochastic population forecast for China with a special emphasis on population ageing. The so-called scaled model for error was used to quantify the uncertainty attached to the population predictions. Data scarcity was a major problem in the specification of the expected error of the population forecast. Therefore, the error structures estimated for European countries were used with some modifications, taking into account the large size and heterogeneity of the Chinese population. The stochastic forecast confirms the expectation of extremely rapid population ageing during the first half of the twenty-first century in China. The old age dependency ratio (OADR) will certainly increase. Simply maintaining the current demographic rates (no international migration) would drive the OADR to 0.42 in 2060, four times the current level. Including expected declines in mortality and net outmigration in the projection would increase the median OADR in 2060 to 0.59, with a 80% prediction interval of [0.47, 0.75]. In particular, the oldest-old population will grow much faster than any other age group. This development has major implications for policy-making in China.