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Opinion
Daniel Moss

China Must Grow Its Shrinking Workforce to Keep Up

To put it bluntly: China doesn't want to become the next Japan.

Beijing has decided the nation simply needs more people.

Beijing has decided the nation simply needs more people.

Photographer: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

Forget that image of sweatshops making all kinds of cheap stuff with plentiful labor. Now China's workforce is shrinking and its population graying rapidly. Maybe many in the West haven't noticed, but Beijing has: Bloomberg News reported Monday that China's cabinet plans to end the limits on family size that, among other things, have now left the country short of workers.  

About a quarter of the population will be 60 or older by 2030, according to government projections last year. That's up from about 13 percent in the 2010 census. China's working-age population is still huge at about a billion, but it's getting smaller. (Coincidentally, 2030 is about the time China is supposed to eclipse America as the world's largest economy.)