Education’s role in China’s demographic future –

The aim of this commentary is to illuminate, for a wider audience, the essential features of the analysis described in the paper on “China’s low fertility may not hinder future prosperity” (1), to place the paper in the context of the program of work on the role of education in demography at the Wittgenstein Centre, Vienna, and to evaluate its claims. Tables 1–4 provide an overview of the options for forecasting a country’s demographic future used in the Wittgenstein program. The paper’s authors chose from the options set out. Tables 1–4 provide an interpretation of their work, based on reading the paper and discussion with the authors. Table 1 characterizes the model, its inputs, and its outputs. Table 2 provides details of alternative demographic models that might be used. In Marois et al. (1), a microsimulation model based on sample data is used, with the sample numbers factored up to a larger population. The demographic assumptions of the model embed the key relationships between fertility, mortality, and migration by educational attainment. The model for China focuses on the national population, with no role for internal migration. International migration into and out of China is very small in relation to its 1.4 billion 2020 population, so it does not play much part in determining future populations, in contrast to Western countries, where immigration is a vital contribution, and to developing countries, where emigration is important. Table 3 presents information on indicators of population aging. The companion paper (1) shows that very different results are obtained when education and …

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