Potential demographic time-bomb looms for China aquaculture sector

Published on
January 19, 2018

A precipitous drop in agricultural employment in China posits questions over the long-term competitiveness of the country’s aquaculture sector, which has long relied on the availability of cheap rural labor.

The total number of agricultural workers in China fell from 443.5 million to 314.2 million people between 1996 and 2016, according to data published recently by the National Bureau of Statistics. The demographics reveal that those that have remained in agriculture are generally more advanced in age; with the number of workers aged 55-plus went from 11.8 percent in 1996 to 33.6 percent in 2016, while the number of those younger than 35 went from 55.3 in 1996 to 19.2 percent in 2016. 

Agricultural statistics are often packaged to showcase the spending of the Xi government on new roads, greenhouses, and irrigation canals. The number of cooperatives registered at 1.8 million, but only 910,000 were counted by the enumerators. 

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