This event is part of the Asia Health Policy Program's 2021-22 Colloquium series "Aligning Incentives for Better Health and More Resilient Health Systems in Asia”
Three prominent demographers discuss China's demographic change with insights from the seventh national census. Topics include the pace of urbanization, the more balanced sex ratio, increasing educational attainment, population aging, potential impacts of the pandemic, and recently announced changes in family planning and retirement policies.
Wang Feng is professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, and an adjunct professor of sociology and demography at Fudan University in Shanghai, China. He has done extensive research on global social and demographic changes, comparative population and social history, and social inequality, with a focus on China. He is the author of multiple books, and his research articles have been published in venues including Population and Development Review, Demography, Science, The Journal of the Economics of Aging, The Journal of Asian Studies, The China Journal, and International Migration Review. He has served on expert panels for the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and as a senior fellow and the director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy. His work and views have appeared in media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Financial Times, The Guardian, Economist, NPR, CNN, BBC, and others.
Cai Yong's research focuses on China's one-child policy and its implications for fertility and social policies. The one-child policy, engineered to control China's population growth by restricting fertility to one child per couple, has been controversial for many reasons, including the policy's questionable demographic and economic assumptions, the ethical concerns regarding direct state intrusion into family matters, and its negative social and demographic impacts. Cai's work has contributed to an emerging consensus on China's fertility change and the impact of the one-child policy. Specifically, his work shows that: China's fertility has dropped to a level well below the replacement; the demographic impact of the one-child policy was modest, much less than the government's claim of 400 million averted births; socioeconomic development played a critical role in driving China's fertility decline; and the socioeconomic impacts of low fertility and population aging are substantial. The consensus on these issues, to which Cai contributed, provided the empirical and scientific foundation that persuaded the Chinese government to end the three-decade-long policy.
Cai continues to monitor China's fertility in the post-one-child era, but with a new focus on international comparisons on sustained low fertility and population aging, both from a micro perspective about individual responses and family dynamics and from a macro perspective about social welfare regimes and public transfers.
Li Shuzhuo is currently University Distinguished Professor of Population and Development Policy Studies, Honorary Director of the Institute for Population and Development Studies, School of Public Policy and Administration, Xi’an Jiaotong University, and consulting professor at the Morrison Institute for Population and Resource Studies, Stanford University. He is a member of the Social Sciences Committee of the Ministry of Education of China. His research is focused on population and social development as well as public policies in contemporary China, including population policies and development, gender imbalance and sustainable social development, aging and health, migration and integration.