Population Growth in Asian Countries


Population growth comes with societal downturns due to the unpredicted demographic changes. Therefore, some Asian countries like China have embarked on specific policies and strategies to control the growth of the population. This move will see India leapfrog China as the most populous country in the world. This paper will highlight the importance of population growth to Asian countries and compare China and Japan in terms of population importance and strategies. Moreover, the paper will discuss the policies and strategies that governments are using to control the growth of the population.

Importance of population growth to China and Japan

China and Japan have recorded one of the highest numbers of internal immigrants of over 160 million people every year (Carrilo & Duckett 2011). This aspect has placed Asian countries and specifically, China on a productive edge, having one of the best growing economies in the world. The migrants to China seek to capitalize on the presence of good living conditions in the country as occasioned by the availability of employment opportunities. The political regimes in China and Japan have been built on the fast-growing economies. In China, the economy relies on cheap and willing young labor force from the migrants (Doeppers & Xenos 1998).

The old-age covers the largest population even though the population growth remains under strict control by the government (Greenhalgh 2003). The age of the people aged 60 years and above will drastically increase, which poses a great challenge to the government with growing numbers of old-aged Chinese. The huge number of aging individuals will compel the government to refocus on the prioritization of where to direct its resources, which in this case will end up in welfare programs for such populations. In fact, the escalating expenditure that goes to the aging lot will ultimately take a huge portion of resources that would have been used for investment (Croll 2000). Moreover, the governments will have the challenge to meet the rising demands for benefits and health services for the younger population.

Japan is one of the world-leading automobile manufacturers, which requires a high labor force. For the past decades, the Japanese economy has remained in constant competitive edge due to the readily available labor force from the growing population (Greenhalgh 2003). The Japanese global factory productivity has kept its economic growth, with the country being in a position to accommodate the relatively growing population. However, the government is projecting to cut down the population to a smaller number, just like the Chinese government. This move will probably lead to a more peaceful and secure environment for both China and Japan.

Nevertheless, several Chinese men may not be in a position to find wives due to the sex ratio imbalance, which has prevailed for decades (Davis & Harell 2000). Consequently, this aspect may constitute a large group of unhappy and dissatisfied people. This issue may lead to social discomfort, and the government may receive resistance in the implementation of some policies towards population control (Matsutani 2006). From the twentieth century, China’s mortality rate has significantly dropped to be on par with countries like the U.S and Britain (Doeppers & Xenos 1998). These changes create a rapid aging and urbanization population in China and Japan.

For Japan, population growth has created the background for cultural exchange and availability of cheap labor, coupled with keeping the country’s competitiveness in the motor vehicle industry (Pang, de Brauw & Rozelle 2004).

The population growth in Japan and China has both beneficial elements as well as societal harms. The benefits involve the availability of cheap labor, constant inventions and innovations, and cultural diversity that promotes the tourism sector, which has led to the sustainability of the different industries in the countries (Matsumoto 2011). Ultimately, the living standards of people living in Japan and China have drastically improved, thus resulting in constantly growing economies.

Unfortunately, the growing population has resulted in increased criminal cases, lack of employment, increased financial, governmental responsibility to the old-aged, and increased social friction due to the sex-ratio imbalance created in society (Hudson 2004). The Chinese and Japanese governments use different policies and strategies for population control. In Japan, the impacts have mainly affected the manufacturing industries, while in China, they have led to different social and economic impacts (Goh 2000). Consequently, the Asian countries suffer differently in economic, demographic, and social elements in the approach to the control the population growth.

Policies and strategies used to population control

China is the only country in the world to have had a one-child policy. This policy has led to an age gap population between the aged and the young generation. The current government policy legally allows one-third of families to have no more than one child per couple. Consequently, almost all urban Chinese couples have only one child through adherence to government policy. From the twentieth century, half of the Chinese women aged below 60 years are allowed to have only one child, which remains as an unprecedented history in China and the world (Matsutani 2006). Moreover, the policy allows an extra child to the only stable couples with permission from the government. Coulmas (2007) posits that couples that have physically, mentally, or psychologically disabled children were allowed to add one more child. Therefore, due to the policy restrictions, the average children population to Chinese couples remains two or one.

In order to balance the country’s population fertility level, the rural couple is given the opportunity to have two or three children with government permission (Pang, de Brauw & Rozelle 2004). On the contrary, Japan has focused on the creation of awareness on the importance of family planning methods. This strategy is used to control births hence population control (Croll 2000). In comparison, the fertility decline in China is greater than in Japan. China has focused on the reduction of the birth rates, while Japan has focused on controlling the fertility rate with considerations of the future population growth.

The impact of the population control policies

From the twentieth century, China has been in a demographic new era. Its mortality rate has greatly declined to a level below replacement in the future. The life expectancy of the females is rated at 74.5 while that of males’ stands at 70.7, which coincides with those of the world’s most developed countries (Matsumoto 2011). If people live for long, it means that they become a burden to society because they are not productive, and their expenditure escalates, especially on health matters.

Moreover, the dependency ratio has increased, having more aged people who solely rely on the diminishing young generation for survival. Goh (2000) reports that the average number of children has recently fallen to approximately 1.5 per couple, which is below the future replacement level for a population to maintain its size. In the country’s most developed areas, fertility has been even much lower to one-child the rate, which currently stands as the lowest in the world.

In China, the number of primary schools dropped between 1995 and 2008 from 750000 to 350000 (Coulmas 2007). In addition, the number of students joining universities has greatly reduced in the past couple of years. The general implication of this phenomenon is that the country may lack qualified personnel and expertise, which is needed in the high labor demanding industries (Carrilo & Duckett 2011). The managerial skills needed in the management and staffing in the internationally recognized industries may be sourced from other countries in the future. Similarly, this move may create high expatriate laborers who may, in turn, be problematic to the Chinese economy and society.

The Chinese population growth has decreased rapidly with increasing government awareness of birth control policy. Consequently, the Chinese economy has been on the rise, with the current trend recording the highest economic growth rate. This move has resulted in a decreased dependency ratio in the country since the job market in the economy can sustain the decreasing population. According to Matsutani (2006), the Chinese industries are booming in technology with new electronics like Lenovo entering the world market as one of the best inventions in the field.

However, the one-child policy has generated great objection from human rights agencies for violating the right of people in deciding the type and number of families to have. Moreover, the policy has led to a higher dependency ratio with an increased number of elderly Chinese people. Economically, the country’s future is at the risk of losing a sustainable labor force in the rapidly growing industries (Coulmas 2007). This aspect implies that economic development is at the risk of future downfall by considering that the population growth rate may not accommodate the human resources required to run the general economy.

According to growth postulations, China will hit 1.4 billion people mark in 2025 and fall again in 2100 to 1 billion people (Carrilo & Duckett 2011). Unfortunately, the forecasted population will not be in a position to sustain the economic development that has been acknowledged as the fastest growing in the world. Moreover, the Chinese economy will experience drawbacks as the other competitors in the production market may surpass its competitive edge (Goh 2000).

Similarly, Japan is shrinking in population growth, having lost 24000 people in 2013 through decreased births and high death rates. Moreover, Japan is expected to lose a third of its population by 2055, thus posing a danger to its economy and labor market (Pang, de Brauw & Rozelle 2004).

The Japanese birth rate may, in the future, be difficult to sustain the current population, which may risk economic development. With the current growth rate, Japan is ahead in the population control problems with a higher curve dealing with the aging population. Research shows that by 2060, 40% of the Japanese citizens will be aged over 65 years (Goh 2000). However, Japan is experiencing a high immigrant population similar to China, which poses demographic changes to the entire population. Japan will need to hire a foreign workforce to maintain the automobile manufacturing companies that are labor-intensive. Ultimately, this move will expose the Japanese economy to frequent crimes, lack of expertise skills, and stiff competition from other competitors in the industry (Coulmas 2007).

The policies employed in China and Japan somehow differ in methodology, but the goal is the same, viz. reducing population through birth control policies. Ultimately, overpopulation leads to environmental problems like pollution, depletion of natural resources, and other indirect environmental problems (Croll 2000). Some of the indirect effects of overpopulation are global warming and scarce habitats for wild animals for tourist attraction. Matsutani (2006) adds that overpopulation leads to the occupation of the most fertile agricultural lands. The high population in these lands leads to soil erosion, which makes the land less productive, hence forcing the governments to import food. This aspect drags the country behind, as the investment level remains relatively low due to the citizens’ over-dependence on government aid and subsidies.

The one-child policy has squeezed the Chinese economy workers will not be available to provide cheap labor for fast growth. According to Matsutani (2006), China must upgrade its industrialization pace to get out of the middle-income gap. China has to employ tough decisions in a bid to rebalance its economy due to the investment debt that is posed by the aging population reducing consumers in the economy.

Furthermore, the Chinese government has proposed to increase the retirement age of men from 60 to 65 years and that of women from 55 to 60. Economists are trying to combat the financial and social pressures of the age, depending on the government’s schemes for their upkeep. According to Goh (2000), increasing the retirement age would imply that the young generation might lack employment as civil servants, which may culminate in high unemployment rates and increased crime cases.

The Chinese demographic changes coincided with those of Japan in 20 years ago when Japan attained the economic wall. In 1990, Japan was a rich and developed country, while China was an ambitiously middle-income growing country (Matsumoto 2011). Currently, China is facing stiff competition from Bangladesh, where the workers accept lower wages. Therefore, for China to remain highly competitive in economic development, it has to avoid the constant conflicts with Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines. Even though China has been ranked as the second most developing countries in the world, the severe implications of the demographic changes are looming. Moreover, Japan seems to be at a higher population control magnitude than China, but with higher considerations to its future economic positions. China should emulate some policies used by Japan to manage its population growth for economic sustainability.


Overpopulation is a baffling issue for any country’s economy. Population growth determines the population density, which influences any country’s economic stability. Population growth affects the dependency ratio, consumption rate, government expenditure, the availability of natural resources, and even the agricultural productivity level. These factors greatly influence the country’s economic growth, investments, and infrastructural developments. Therefore, Asian countries should highly focus on balancing population growth with economic growth to sustain its future productivity comfortably. Asian countries have recorded high population growth, for instance, in India, Japan, and China, thus leading to a possibility of future economic crises. Setting policies and strategies to rebalance the age gaps in the population growth will greatly save the economic growth therein.

Reference List

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Pang, L, de Brauw, A & Rozelle, S 2004, ‘Working until You Drop: The Elderly of Rural China’, The China Journal, no. 52, pp. 73-94. Web.