The issue of population probably didn’t make it onto the agenda of the November plenary meeting held by the Chinese leadership to discuss future economic policy. Yet of all the economic challenges China will be compelled to address in the next few years, accelerated population aging definitely tops the list. In any case, the U.N.’s authoritative projections leave no room for doubt about where the country will be in 2040. Between now and then, the U.N. expects the median age to rise by more than eleven years to 46; the working-age population to shrink by 10 percent; the 15-to-44 age group to lose 200 million members, with the 65-and-over group gaining as many; and the ratio of workers to retirees to plummet from 18 to 2 at present to just 5 to 2. So the graying of China is likely to go extremely fast—even faster, in some respects, than the process under way in Europe.
In pursuit of an Alternative Path
The French economy is undeniably in a bad way. But trying to overcome its shortcomings with the kind of shock therapy inflicted on Southern Europe would be the most dangerous response, both for France and the entire euro area. An alternative approach is therefore required—one that will necessarily involve leveraging more effectively the factors that set the French economy apart. This, then, is the value of taking a closer look at France’s key strengths.
France is in a bad way, with a very real risk of lapsing into critical condition
- You can’t cure debt with austerity
- Competitive deflation—a non-option
- France, Germany: two economies, two models
In pursuit of an alternative path
- Just what are France’s key strengths?
- The benefits of favorable demographics for demand, investment, available capital and personal wealth
- France’s underrated productivity
- French companies’ international footprint and standing
- Geographic location, tourism, and agriculture
- Leveraging the French economy’s strengths more effectively to tackle the crisis