With the world’s largest population (1.3 billion) and an economy in Big Bang phase after a number of its centralized, state-controlled restrictions were removed or loosened, many predict China will be the dominant economic nation of the 21st century.
University of Chicago professors, Gary Becker (economics, Nobel Laureate) and Richard Posner (law), in their lively and erudite tandem blog, see a number of reasons — including similar past predictions for Germany, Soviet Union, and Japan that didn’t pan out — why China may not rise to the level of economic hegemony many envision.
For me, the most potentially damning note is gender-based. Posner writes:
- With 116 recorded male births for every 100 female births, and an excess of 70 million males over females in the population as a whole, Chinese men will soon find themselves competing for an inadequate supply of women. The result is likely to be a steep decline in the age of first marriage for women (as in polygamoous societies), which may in turn reduce female participation in the workforce and with it economic output.
China, largely as a result of its “one child” policy, which has led many parents to make sure, one way or another, that that “one child” is a boy, may find its economy stymied by the same force that holds down the Islamic economies: lack of women in the workforce.