30 oktober, 2006

Kina ved at løbe tør for kinesere

Godt nyt til danske arbejdere, der er rædde for at deres jobs bliver flyttet til Kina: Kina er ved at løbe tør for kinesere til at tage dem. Under hovedhistorien er der yderligere godt nyt til miljø-mafiaen (Kina vil ikke blive lige så rigt som den vestlige verden, og ergo ikke have samme forbrugsmønster) og geopolitikere (Kina bliver ikke helt den samme trussel man har frygtet). Fra Middle East Transparent:

It may be surprising to know that China, the world’s most populous country, whose economic boom has largely depended on the advantage of having a huge supply of low-cost workers, faces labour shortages. Studies conducted recently show that China’s problem of worker shortage, which first appeared sporadically in 2004, has now become a more persistent one. The problem has pushed up wages at a time when costs of manufacturing goods are already rising due to increases in energy prices. This is likely to weaken Chinese-made products’ competitiveness on world markets, and force investors to move to lower-cost countries such as India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.

Chinese factories had to raise the minimum wage this year by as much as 30 percent to between $70 and $85 a month. With this increase, the largest in a decade, a worker in China today is paid 30 percent more than his counterpart in Vietnam for example.

The shortage of workers is most acute in the country’s export regions, namely the Pearl River Delta, which feeds into Hong Kong, and the Yangtze River Delta, which funnels into Shanghai. For example, it was officially reported that the city of Shenzhen, on the Hong Kong border, alone faced a labour shortage of about 300,000 workers this year. Commenting on the issue, a Chinese human resources expert said that a few years ago, millions of young people were still flooding into Shenzhen to search for any job at any wage, and factories did not need to put up advertisements to recruit workers or tempt them with incentives and benefits. He added: “Now we put up a sign looking for five people, and maybe one person shows up”.

Factors contributing to making a country with a population of 1.3 billion have a labour shortage of nearly two million people according to an estimate are numerous.

First, demand on workers has enormously increased in recent years, owning to the vast expansion of industrial, construction, and services sectors.

Second, low wages, tax cuts, and long-working hours have all pushed a large number of migrant workers to quit their jobs in the booming coastal provinces and move back to their farms in western provinces. The government’s decision last year to eliminate the agricultural tax has fuelled the trend.

Her skal jeg måske tilføje, at dette tiltag er en del af det kinesiske diktaturs forsøg på at berolige land-befolkningen, der de sidste år har været kilde til tiltagende uro.

Third, Beijing’s recent policy of closing the income gap between the urban rich and the rural poor through developing the economies of poor inland provinces and launching housing and infrastructure projects has created many jobs. As a result, young workers from the countryside are less willing to leave home for booming areas in search of a better life.

Fourth, unlike China’s old generation, whose members sought employment without proper education or skills, members of the new generation are more ambitious and would rather first develop their skills or have university degrees in order to avoid jobs that are harsh and pay little. This can be supported by the increasing number of university students. Last year, for example, over 14 million Chinese students joined local colleges and universities, up from 4.3 million in 1999.

Fifth, China’s one-child policy, which was implemented in 1979, has turned it into a country of more old and less young people. This is most acute in Shanghai, China’s model of economic prosperity, where the age group of 60 and above is expected to account for 30% of the population by 2020. Because of this policy, the number of Chinese aged 15-19 will decline by 17 percent in five years, to about 103 million from 124 million today, according to a report.

Dette er igen kun en del af Kinas rigtigt store problem: mens landet har reddet sig selv fra "befolkningsbomben" ved sit et-barns-politik, så fører samme politik til en "ældrebombe", der siger spar to til den vi har i Danmark, især fordi overgangen skar langt mere drastisk end vi har set i Danmark. Fra Chinas Underpopulation Problem i Slate:

The advantages of investment in China are well-known. Less well-understood is a looming demographic challenge that could undermine China's ability to grow rich before its population grows old. Emerging-market investors in search of an alternative should note that India faces a demographic challenge of its own.

Recent reports from researchers at Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs suggest that China's workforce may begin to shrink sooner than we thought. According to Deutsche Bank's analysis, the percentage of working-age Chinese in the population (those aged 15 to 64) will peak around 2010 at 72.2 percent. Over the next 40 years, that number will fall steadily to just 60.7 percent, according to U.N. forecasts. The steep drop is due in large part to China's one-child policy, first implemented in 1979. Also, many Chinese retire before they are 64; China's current retirement age is 50 for most women and 60 for most men.

There are two reasons this shift will put considerable strain on China's economic performance. First, the country's explosive economic growth over the last several years is due mostly to its plentiful supply of cheap labor. When the working-age population begins to drop five years from now, China's appeal to international investors may begin to fall as well.

Second, by 2050, every 10 Chinese workers will support seven Chinese who are too young or too old to work, according to Goldman Sachs. Even that projection is based on the optimistic assumption that the central government will soon persuade its citizens to work until they are 64. The Deutsche Bank study includes a warning from the International Monetary Fund that the transition from the current pension system to a more sustainable one could cost developing China $100 billion, not including the financial burden on local governments.

The population is aging in Japan and in many European countries, as well, but these states are already wealthy. The financial stresses on China, where the average per-capita income remains a fraction of those of developed states, will be much more difficult to bear. Then there are the health-care costs. No one can forecast with confidence what it will cost China to care for the 265 million citizens who will be over the age of 65 by 2020. The worst of the crunch is many years away. But the new reports suggest that the shrinking of China's labor force will begin by the end of this decade.

Andy Mukerjee citerede Helen Qiao for hvad der er Kinas - og måske vores - reelle problem i en artikel på Bloomberg.com:

Helen Qiao, an economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in Hong Kong, posed an interesting question this week: ``Will China grow old before getting rich?''

Qiao's research shows that China's dependency ratio -- the number of people too young and too old to work divided by the working-age population -- will start rising at the end of this decade and approach 50 percent in 2030, from less than 40 percent at present, making China as gray as Japan was last year.

By 2050, every 10 Chinese workers in the age group of 15 to 64 will support a total of seven younger and older people -- a dependency ratio of 70 percent.

An aging society may be an inevitable part of demographic transition, though ``what makes China's case unique is that the sharp rise in dependency ratio will arrive earlier in terms of per capita income level relative to other countries,'' Qiao says in her report.

In 2030, China's annual per capita income will be a little more than $11,000 measured in current prices, compared with almost $36,000 in Japan last year, according to Goldman Sachs's estimates. South Korea's dependency ratio will approach 50 percent in 2025, with its citizens earning $52,000 a year.

Der er dog andre ting, der sætter grænser for Kinas vækst. Den oprindelige artikel fra Middle East Transparent igen:

China’s dilemma, however, is not confined to the shortages of unskilled or semi-skilled workers. In addition, both public and private companies are having trouble finding enough talented employees and highly skilled labour to fill junior and senior managerial and other posts. The evidence can be derived from a decision last month by the Shanghai municipal government to hold job fairs in North America in an effort to attract expatriates and overseas Chinese professionals to work in the city.

According to a recent study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute, Chinese firms seeking to expand abroad and continue growing in the years to come will need up to 75,000 internationally experienced leaders. Currently, only 5,000 such leaders are available in the country. Local universities must be held responsible for this, given its failure in producing more graduates capable of working successfully in world-class-companies and brilliantly serving the fast-growing domestic economy. Among the 1.7 million students who graduated in 2003 from over 1,500 local colleges and universities, only a few hundreds had good English and practical experience- a requirement of most multinational firms.