- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Several countries in the region, including China, face declining population trends, the Asian Development Bank said in a report yesterday.
Other countries listed as facing population declines were Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
Carl Haub, demographer for the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau, said the trend would have important implications for a country like China.
"The main concern is that there is going to have to be some sort of replacement for extended-family support for those over the age of 65," he said.
"Aging is becoming a problem. In the 1970s, over 4 percent of the population was over the age of 65, while according to the United Nations Population Projections, by 2050 over 23 percent of the population will be over 65," he said.
China's government, concerned about runaway population growth, strictly enforces a policy limiting families to one child.
This and other factors have helped it reduce the birthrate from six children per household in the 1950s and1960s to three in the 1970s and to a low of 1.8 today.
Chinese also have a strong traditional preference for male children, which has led to the infanticide of female children. Mr. Haub says that preference "probably reduces population by 5 to 7 percent."
If a flattening of China's population growth leads it to allow families to have a second child and thus a second chance for a son "it would reduce sex-selective abortion," he predicted.
The Asian Development Bank study said South Asia, with 40 percent of the region's population, still has the highest rate of population growth while China, with 39 percent of the region's population, has the lowest growth rate in Asia.
The report attributed the slowdown mainly to rising levels of education, increased female participation in the work force and a greater use of contraceptives.
The study also cited the HIV-AIDS pandemic as a factor. The Asia-Pacific region had more than 6.6 million people with HIV at the end of 2001, including 1.1 million adults and children who were "newly infected."
Tim Hildebrant, program assistant for the Asia program at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said he was not surprised by the ADB's findings.
"The one-child policy movement to reduce the population has been a goal for a long time," he said.
Mr. Hildebrant noted a global trend for families to have fewer children as their median household income increases.
Both he and Mr. Haub said the problem of declining population growth is much more severe in Japan, where women have an average of 1.3 children.
The report warned of the needs for long-term health care and new solutions for social security and pension programs.
"In Japan, as people have less children, the population is getting older, and consequently there are not enough taxpayer dollars for social security," Mr. Hildebrant said.
The U. N. predicts that China's population will not plateau until 2040, but that assumes the birthrate will remain at 1.8 to 1.9 babies per woman.
The report also cited the Philippines and Bangladesh as having high birthrates. South Asia is expected to add 570 million people in India, 200 million in Pakistan, and 130 million in Bangladesh during the next 50 years.

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