But for the first time in recorded history, the average Chinese household size is now less than 3. Around 2060, nearly a fifth of men aged 70+ years will no longer have descendents.
Even more troubling is the fate of China’s Uyghur minority, which may be facing a deliberate and authoritarian population reduction, that some are already calling a true genocide. A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), based on an analysis of China’s own statistics, states that the birth rate in the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region was slashed by half (-48.74%) in just two years. In counties where minorities were more than 90% of the population, the reduction was even more brutal: from 2017 to 2018, the reported reduction in the birth rate was an extraordinary -56.5%. The authors of the report insist that this is unprecedented in post-1950 world history, even in wartime.
Population Trends and the Future Balance of Power
The whole of East Asia is undergoing a demographic transition which is happening much faster than what old industrialized countries experienced in the 20st century. Japan and South Korea are no longer producing babies (in fact, the latter has the lowest fertility rate in the world) and have little appetite for immigration. As a wake-up call, theoretical studies on when the "last person" would die in the country, if current trends continued, have been conducted. According to Tohoku University (2012), the "last Japanese" would disappear in 3011. That would be just a few centuries after the "last South Korean", who would die in 2750 according to a study by the Diet (2014).
Meanwhile, India is undergoing its own demographic transition. In fact, this transition is well underway in the Southern States of the Federation which have reached "modern" fertility levels. However, because the country is so large, it will still bring the biggest contribution to the increase in world population in the coming decades (+273 million between 2020 and 2050), and it will overtake China as early as the mid-2020s. As China will grey, India will awaken. According to a recent study published in The Lancet, the country’s working-age population will also surpass China’s in the mid-2020s and will be the biggest in the world by 2100. India is thus in a position to become a leading economic force in the second part of the century. That is, provided that public policy ensures the necessary environment in terms of education, infrastructure, legal norms, etc. - and much remains to be done in this regard - to allow the country to benefit from what experts call the "demographic dividend", that window of opportunity of a few decades when the ratio between the working age population and its dependents favors the former.