Re: [OPE-L] China: Labor Power Shortage Looms

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Thu Jul 06 2006 - 16:44:51 EDT

Paul C.,

Do you know where one can get the data to investigate the numbers of
persons who are wage-laborers (of course, with all the problems of
defining wage-laborers kept in mind) at the world level and over time?  Or
can we do it only for the large population countries as a more delimited

Paul Z.

THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF 9-11-2001, P.Zarembka, ed, Elsevier, 2006
                    -- "a benchmark in 9/11 research", reviewer

On Thu, 6 Jul 2006, Paul Cockshott wrote:

> This I believe is a factor of decisive significance
> for the balance of class forces internationally.
> Based on UN projections the section of the chinese
> population between the ages of 16-55 who are the
> most economically vigorous will peak sometime
> between 2010 and 2020. Since the latent reserve
> army in peasant agriculture is some way from being
> exhausted, the exploitable population will continue
> to rise for a short while after that. For how long
> it grows depends on the accumulation rate.
> An accumulation rate approaching 50% of GNP which
> is quite extraordinary can eat up population supplies
> fast.
> Rakesh says it is not yet critical but one should
> be wary of being too short term in ones perspective.
> For historical materialism it is the broad long term
> trends of a mode of production that are decisive.
> In this context the year 2006 is significant. It is
> the first year in which more than half the world
> population is urban. This puts the world as a whole
> at the same stage of capitalist development as
> Britain was when   Engels and Marx arrived there
> and started and started their analysis of it with
> ' The condition of the working class in England'.
> By my reckoning the strategic shift in class forces
> brought on by demographic transition was evident here
> by 1900. From then on the tendancy was for the working
> class to grow in strength relative to the bourgoisie
> producing a series of restructuring crises.
> In China the process will be accelerated by several
> factors:
> 1. The rate of capital accumulation is an order of
>    magnitude higher than it was in the 19th century.
> 2. The productivity differential between agriculture
>    and industry is much higher, this is what temporarilly
>    allows such a rapid rate of accumulation.
> 3. Whereas Britain could seize an empire that was much
>    larger than its domestic population to offset the
>    decline in the rate of profit, this is not possible
>    for the most populous nation on the planet.
> This means that the inherent tendancies of capital accumulation]
> to self dissolve the capitalist mode of production will be
> more marked in China than they were in Europe a century
> ago.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: OPE-L on behalf of glevy@PRATT.EDU
> Sent: Sat 7/1/2006 2:48 PM
> Subject: [OPE-L] China: Labor Power Shortage Looms
> I saw this on Globolist.  With all of the talk of "over-population"
> in recent decades, this article raises some important issues.  Given
> the age distribution of the population in certain regions in China, will
> it face a labor-power shortage?  If so, how will that affect its terms of
> trade and manufacturing costs?  How might it be overcome? (e.g. by
> internal [wrom where?] or external migration?)  Will manufacturing shift
> to other regions in search of lower labor costs? Is the "boom" in
> Shanghai about to end?
> In solidarity, Jerry
> ============================================================
> NY Times, June 30, 2006
> As China Ages, a Shortage of Cheap Labor Looms
> SHANGHAI, June 29 - Shanghai is rightfully known as a fast-moving,
> hypermodern city - full of youth and vigor. But that obscures a less
> well-known fact: Shanghai has the oldest population in China, and it is
> getting older in a hurry.
> Twenty percent of this city's people are at least 60, the common
> retirement age for men in China, and retirees are easily the fastest
> growing segment of the population, with 100,000 new seniors added to
> the rolls each year, according to a study by the Shanghai Academy of
> Social Sciences. From 2010 to 2020, the number of people 60 or older is
> projected to grow by 170,000 a year.
> By 2020 about a third of Shanghai's population, currently 13.6 million,
> will consist of people over the age of 59, remaking the city's social
> fabric and placing huge new strains on its economy and finances.
> The changes go far beyond Shanghai, however. Experts say the rapidly
> graying city is leading one of the greatest demographic changes in
> history, one with profound implications for the entire country.
> The world's most populous nation, which has built its economic strength
> on seemingly endless supplies of cheap labor, China may soon face
> manpower shortages. An aging population also poses difficult political
> issues for the Communist government, which first encouraged a
> population explosion in the 1950's and then reversed course and
> introduced the so-called one-child policy a few years after the death
> of Mao in 1976.
> That measure has spared the country an estimated 390 million births but
> may ultimately prove to be another monumental demographic mistake. With
> China's breathtaking rise toward affluence, most people live longer and
> have fewer children, mirroring trends seen around the world.
> Those trends and the extraordinarily low birth rate have combined to
> create a stark imbalance between young and old. That threatens the
> nation's rickety pension system, which already runs large deficits even
> with the 4-to-1 ratio of workers to retirees that it was designed for.
> Demographers also expect strains on the household registration system,
> which restricts internal migration. The system prevents young workers
> from migrating to urban areas to relieve labor shortages, but officials
> fear that abolishing it could release a flood of humanity that would
> swamp the cities.
> As workers become scarcer and more expensive in the increasingly
> affluent cities along China's eastern seaboard, the country will face
> growing economic pressures to move out of assembly work and other
> labor-intensive manufacturing, which will be taken up by poorer
> economies in Asia and beyond, and into service and information-based
> industries.
> [...]
> India, the world's other emerging giant, also stands to benefit, with
> low wages and a far younger population than China.
> Even within China, Mr. Zuo said, many foreign investors have begun
> moving factories away from Shanghai and other eastern cities to inland
> locations, where the work force is cheaper and younger.
> Full:
> <
> hp&ex=1151726400&en=92530c7ed24b728e&ei=5094&partner=homepage>

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