Last week’s podcast covered the controversy surrounding the French government’s plan to raise the statutory retirement age. In today’s vocabulary lesson, we will discuss the challenges that China is facing due to its shrinking population. In a recent article published in The New York Times on January 17, 2023, written by Paul Krugman and titled “The Problem(s) With China’s Population Drop,” the author explores the economic consequences of China’s demographic shifts.
According to Krugman, China’s population overall is dropping, and China’s working-age population has been falling since 2015, presenting significant challenges for the government in terms of providing for the needs of an aging population while maintaining economic growth. A shrinking population means there are fewer people in the country than before, leading to a rising ratio of seniors to those of working age. Krugman argues that with this old-age dependency ratio skyrocketing in China, investment yields diminishing returns, creating a vicious cycle.
Krugman also notes that China has sustained its economy with extremely high rates of investment. However, a bloated real estate sector, or an oversupply of housing, has been the driving force behind much of China’s economic growth. With the decline in population, the demand for housing has also decreased, which looks like a financial crisis waiting to happen if the trend continues.
Being an economic superpower, China’s demographic issues affect the world’s economic growth. Therefore, China’s policymakers and economists need to find ways to address the challenges presented by their demographic shifts.
Last week you learned the idiom ‘ripe old age’, which means . Well, today’s idiom is also related to the issue of an aging population is “golden years.” “Golden years” is used to describe the later years of someone’s life, typically after retirement, in which they can enjoy their leisure time and pursue hobbies or interests they couldn’t before due to work commitments.
Last week, we learned the idiom “ripe old age,” which is used to describe someone who has lived a long and full life. You learned that saying ‘ripe old age’ was a respectful way of talking about someone who has lived a long time and experienced many things. Today’s idiom is also related to aging: “golden years.” The phrase “golden years” is used to describe the later years of someone’s life, typically after retirement, when they can enjoy more leisure time and pursue hobbies or interests that they may not have had time for during their working years. So, ‘ripe old age’ and ‘golden years’.
Here’s today’s key vocabulary one last time. Listen closely:
• Shrinking population – a decrease in the total number of people living in a given area over time.
• Working-age population – the number of people who are of working age in a population.
• Yields diminishing returns – the returns from investments are not as great as they were before.
• Bloated real estate sector – an oversupply of housing.
• Economic superpower – a country that has significant economic power, both in terms of production and consumption.
You might also enjoy this related lesson: UN Population Predictions
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