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November 8, 2011

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Migrants slow aging of Shanghai's work force

SHANGHAI'S population of migrants between 15 and 44 years old has surpassed the registered resident population of the same age group for the first time, the city's latest population census shows, a trend helping to counter the aging of the city's labor force over the past decade.

Shanghai has a 16 million-strong labor force, comprising 72 percent of the whole population. The labor force percentage has risen by 1.8 percentage points since 2000.

According to the Shanghai Statistics Bureau, the average age of the city's registered labor force is 38.42 years old, while that of migrant workers is 32.09 years old.

The bureau said that since 1990, Shanghai's registered labor force has gotten older. By the end of last year, the percentage of people between 15 and 44 had fallen about 0.5 percentage point compared with that in 2000, while the number of 45- to 59-year-olds increased by near 1 percentage point.

"Shanghai does need migrant labor force," said Peng Xizhe, a population expert with Fudan University. "But we must see that the labor force not only brings about benefits, but also problems on the city's social security system."

Peng said that according to his study, about 2 million migrant workers haven't been included in any social security system.

"The government should assess their life condition to make a plan for them," said Peng. "Officials can neither ignore them thoroughly nor include all of them into the city's security system."

Peng said the aging labor force is a problem not only for Shanghai but for the whole country. He warned that in the near future, the labor force in China is very likely to decrease because of the low birth rate and resulting aging population.

According to the 2010 census, children under 14 comprise only 16 percent of the country's population, which means that although the labor force will increase for the next five years, it will start decreasing in a decade.


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