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中国老龄化

The silver lining of ageing populations in emerging markets
中国应对“未富先老”的长期战略

约翰斯顿:中国从30多年前就开始预见到老龄化将带来的经济挑战,并为此实施了一项长期的经济人口转型战略。

The year 2018 marked an epochal demographic turning point: Earth became home to more people aged 65 years and over than children under five, for the first time ever.

2018年标志着全球人口的一个划时代的转折点:年龄在65岁以上的人口首次超过了5岁以下的人口。

In this newly grey world, rich countries are generally richest in senior citizenry — but this won’t last. In recent decades the fertility rate has typically also fallen in developing countries, and at increasingly lower per capita incomes. Life expectancy has been increasing similarly.

在这个刚变老的世界,富裕国家的老年人口比例通常最高——但这种情况不会永远持续下去。最近几十年,发展中国家的生育率也普遍下降,而且出现这种下降时的人均收入水平越来越低了。预期寿命也一样在延长。

Middle-income developing countries — including G20 members Argentina, Brazil, China, Russia and Turkey — are closing in on the rich world’s senior citizen population share. Thailand, Tunisia and Sri Lanka are among dozens more that will join them in future decades as the silver tsunami spreads.

在中等收入的发展中国家,包括20国集团(G20)成员国阿根廷、巴西、中国、俄罗斯和土耳其,老年人口比例正在接近富裕国家的水平。随着银发浪潮的扩展,泰国、突尼斯、斯里兰卡等几十个国家也将在未来几十年加入它们的行列。

Realising the investor gold and avoiding the pitfalls of this ageing process requires some nuance. One area requires understanding the remarkably different lives of representative retirees across different countries. Failure to do so may, moreover, even contribute to economic stagnation.

从这一老龄化过程中发现投资机遇并避免掉入陷阱,需要抓住细微差别。其一是了解不同国家典型退休群体迥然各异的生活。如果做不到这一点,甚至可能导致经济停滞。

Masaaki Shirakawa, former governor of the Bank of Japan, almost remorsefully noted recently that failure to have appreciated earlier the nature of his own country’s demographic challenge is likely to have contributed to both a downward economic and demographic spiral over the past quarter of a century — arresting which is now even more difficult.

最近,日本银行(Bank of Japan)前行长白川方明(Masaaki Shirakawa)几近懊悔地指出,未能及早认清日本面临的人口挑战的性质,很可能导致了过去25年日本经济和人口的螺旋式下滑,现如今要阻止这一趋势变得更加困难。

True to stereotype, Chinese policymakers have, however, been looking ahead for more than three decades to China’s own ageing-related economic challenge. After opting to implement the draconian One Child Policy in 1980, it fell on the shoulders of China’s policymakers to forecast and plan ahead for the consequences, positive and negative.

然而,按照人们的一般看法,中国的政策制定者30多年来一直在预先为本国将会面临的与老龄化相关的经济挑战做准备。1980年决定实施严厉的一孩政策后,中国的政策制定者就要肩负起预测其后果——无论是好是坏——并提前制定相应计划的责任。

Most prominently, as far back as the 1980s, Renmin University demographer Wu Cangping, now in his own ninth decade, realised that with given fertility and life expectancy forecasts there was no feasible growth rate that would prevent China getting old before it could hope to get rich.

最引人注目的是,早在上世纪80年代,现年90多岁的中国人民大学(Renmin University)人口学家邬沧萍就意识到,在给定的生育率和预期寿命预测下,现实的经济增速不可能阻止中国在变富之前变老。

The associated phrase in Chinese, wei-fu-xian-lao, was adopted to convey the risks and help Chinese economic policymakers go all out to best ensure that China’s “premature” ageing future — now its present reality — would not derail its economic modernisation agenda.

中文里用“未富先老”一词来形容这个现象,以向人们传达其中的风险,并促使中国的经济政策制定者去尽力确保“过早到来的”老龄化未来——如今已成为现实——不要破坏其经济现代化议程。

Hence, from the 1980s, it seems China not only implemented an experimental economic development strategy, the “opening and reform” agenda, but something closer to a long-run economic demography transition strategy. That is, an agenda that would see a sustained development over time not only of the economy but also of weighted demographic resources and productivity potential.

因此,从上世纪80年代开始,看起来中国不仅实施了一项试验性的经济发展战略——“改革开放”,还实施了一项长期的经济人口转型战略。也就是说,这一战略不仅着眼未来经济的可持续发展,还着眼于受到压力的人口资源以及生产率潜力的可持续发展。

Examples of China’s longer-term “premature” ageing strategy include, first, that Beijing made sure to extract the maximum benefit from the temporary demographic dividend window provided by low wage-driven export growth and low construction costs.

此处举一些例子来说明中国应对“过早到来的”老龄化的长期性战略:首先,中国政府确保了从低工资驱动的出口增长及低建设成本提供的暂时性人口红利窗口期最大限度地获取好处。

Second, government officials made only modest pension promises even to the large, relatively lowly remunerated cohort born in the 1950s and 1960s. Third, with an eye on the then horizon, when China would have to rely on fewer workers, it sought to ensure that a sizeable share of its rising income was invested in scaling up the next generation’s human capital via intensified education, a process made easier by the reduced number of children per household.

其次,即使是对上世纪五六十年代出生的庞大、收入相对较低的群体,政府官员也只做出了微薄的养老金承诺。第三,着眼于未来,当中国将不得不依赖更少的劳动力时,它试图确保不断增长的收入中有相当大一部分通过强化教育,投入到提升下一代的人力资本中,而每户家庭平均子女数量的减少使这一点变得更加容易做到。

Finally, with an eye on future international growth, China’s policymakers have also deepened political and economic ties, of late via the Belt and Road Initiative, with “young” and “poor” countries likely to reap future demographic dividends that boast emerging consumer markets.

最后,着眼于未来的国际增长,中国的政策制定者还深化了与“年轻”、“贫穷”国家的政治和经济联系——近年来是通过“一带一路”倡议(BRI)——这些国家有望在未来收获人口红利,拥有新兴的消费市场。

As a result of this perhaps under-appreciated strategy, China’s human capital is now heavily biased in favour of its younger working-age cohort. As a consequence, and as a result of China’s growth itself, this cohort also enjoys employment conditions and wages far better than those enjoyed by their parents and grandparents.

这一可能被低估的战略的结果是,中国的人力资本如今很明显地偏向更年轻的劳动年龄群体。因为这个缘故以及中国经济的增长,这一群体的就业环境和工资水平也要远远好于自己的父母和祖父母辈。

In comparison, the same structural shift in human capital is less evident — if not reversed — in Japan, which got old after it got rich. Hence, its millions of retirees represent a larger loss to the economy. In turn, it would be expected that population ageing itself weighs differently on the economies of China and Japan.

相比之下,在先富后老的日本,同样的人力资本结构性转变就没那么明显——如果不是反过来的话。因此,大量退休人员意味着其经济损失会更大。反过来,可以预计,人口老龄化问题对中日两国经济构成的压力不一样。

The investment opportunities, similarly, will also be unique. For example, where cruises may form part of a sensible silver tourism marketing strategy in OECD countries, where the older cohort tend to have higher levels of disposable income and be time-rich, in “poor-old” China, the average globally mobile tourist is more likely to be younger and looking for adventure.

同样,投资机会也将是独特的。例如,在经合组织(OECD)成员国,邮轮旅行可能是精明的银发旅游营销策略的一部分。在这些国家,老年群体往往拥有更高的可支配收入水平,而且时间充裕。而在“未富已老”的中国,会到全球各地旅行的游客通常更可能是爱好冒险的年轻人。

In the meantime, investors who can offer pragmatic and affordable solutions to help make China’s poor-old masses more comfortable might expect a significant return. Similarly, investors offering means through which Japan’s prime-aged workers and youth can more easily realise the same, if not higher, living standards as those enjoyed by their parents and grandparents, or means of helping them to support their super-ageing elders, are also likely to find a ripe market.

与此同时,那些能够提供务实且让人负担得起的解决方案、帮助中国贫困老年人群过上更安逸生活的投资者,也许有望获得可观的回报。同样,投资者如果能提供让日本青壮年劳动力和年轻人更容易实现与父母辈和祖父母一样的生活水平(如果不是更高的话)的方法、或帮助他们赡养超高龄老人的方法,也很可能从中发现一个成熟的市场。

For other emerging markets, it may be too late to recreate China’s long-run approach and may not be feasible, or even sensible to try.

对于其他新兴市场而言,现在复制中国的长远做法可能为时已晚,或许已不可行,甚至是不明智的。

For the poorest and youngest countries, however, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, the approach offers a factor to consider in attempting to forge a period of sustained development. For all countries, even those that are already high income, a continuous balancing, not only of the economy, but of economic demography, appears to be imperative. In an era of epochal demographic change, this may also be the approach favoured by long-run-focused investors.

然而,对于最贫穷且最年轻的国家(其中大多数位于撒哈拉以南非洲)来说,如果想尝试开启一段可持续发展时期,中国这种做法或许值得考虑。对所有国家、甚至是那些已经实现高收入的国家来说,不只经济、还有经济人口的持续平衡显然都是必要的。在一个人口结构发生重大变化的时代,这可能也是会受到长线投资者赞赏的做法。

Despite the process of adjusting to ageing beginning more than three decades ago, even China faces a precipitous economic tightrope as its workforce declines as a share of population and its elderly population share rises rapidly.

尽管中国从30多年前就开始了适应老龄化的调整过程,但随着劳动人口比例下降、老年人口比例迅速上升,连中国也面临严峻的经济处境。

At the forefront is the backdrop of an increasingly complex global geopolitical whirlwind around its ascent up the technological value chain. It is, at least, relatively well prepared for that challenge.

最突出的一点是,随着中国在技术价值链上的位置上升,它所处的国际地缘政治环境越来越错综复杂。至少,它在应对这一挑战上准备得相对充分。

Compared with Japan and other longstanding high-income countries that are ageing rapidly, China may also enjoy some structural dividends, such as the noted favourable skewing of education in favour of the smaller prime-age cohort, and relatively “cheap” pensioners.

与日本及其他长期处于高收入水平、正在快速老龄化的国家相比,中国也可能享受到一些结构性红利,如上文指出的教育向规模较小的青壮年群体倾斜,以及相对“低成本”的养老金领取者。

To that end, upper-middle income may not yet be “rich”, but it appears China has reached one frontier. That frontier, something of a spin-off from the draconian One Child Policy, is how well both its government and populous are ready for the vast and intensifying implications of ageing.

为此,中上收入也许还算不上“富裕”,但中国似乎已经到达一个新境地。这有点像严厉的一孩政策的副产品:为应对老龄化带来的巨大且还在不断加剧的影响,其政府和国民所做的准备有多充分?

In that regard at least, it is Japan playing catch up to China. “Younger” countries should ensure they do not waste their youth.

至少在这方面,是日本正在努力追赶中国。那些“较年轻的”国家应该确保不要浪费本国的年轻人。

Lauren A Johnston is a research associate at the China Institute, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and founding director of New South Economics, an economic research and strategy consultancy

本文作者劳伦•A•约翰斯顿(Lauren A Johnston)是伦敦大学(University of London)亚非学院(SOAS)中国研究所的助理研究员(research associate),他也是专注经济研究与战略的咨询机构New South Economics的创始董事

译者/何黎

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