Professor Carl Minzner gives his expert opinion on the impact of China’s falling birth rates in an article published by The Atlantic.
The oft-repeated compliment paid to China’s leaders is that they “play the long game.” Masters of strategic thinking, the narrative goes, Beijing’s top cadres are always looking far ahead—planning, preparing, and plotting for the future. If only American politicians and businessmen could see past the next election cycle or quarterly earnings report, the Chinese wouldn’t be eating our lunch.
But then there’s the curious case of China’s impending demographic disaster: The country is getting old, and quickly, which is threatening its economic progress. The problem is nothing new. Experts have been ringing the alarm for years.
“The finely tuned technocratic motors of the Chinese state—they are grinding down,” Carl Minzner, a specialist in Chinese government at Fordham University School of Law, told me.
Fordham’s Minzner blames bureaucratic inertia. A sprawling state apparatus geared toward controlling births emerged from the one-child policy. Local officials were judged by their success in implementing the program. This system, and the incentives that made it work, became embedded in the government’s structure.