Life expectancy to hit 85 by 2050

By Jia Hepeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-12 06:55

The Chinese will live and study longer, consume far less energy and spend a much smaller proportion of income on food.

That is the scenario for 2050 painted by Outline for China's Sustainable Development. The 20-volume series consists of research reports, analysis and predictions made by 184 senior scientists, sociologists and policy researchers mainly from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

According to the study, published recently by Beijing-based Science Press, average life expectancy will reach 85 by 2050. The figure currently is 71.8.

Also, the development outline indicates that by 2050, the average schooling period will increase from the current 8.2 years to 14.

Other goals are related to population, food, energy, resources, ecology and the environment.

The Engel Coefficient will be kept below 0.15 and the Gini Coefficient between 0.35 and 0.4, according to the blueprint.

The Engel Coefficient is an index calculating the proportion of money spent on food in overall consumption. The lower it is, the more a country is developed. The figure at present is 0.37 for urbanites and 0.45 for rural residents in China.

The Gini Coefficient is an internationally-used index evaluating the equality of income distribution. A figure higher than 0.40 means a big wealth gap.

There is no official figure for China's Gini Coefficient, but it is widely estimated by scholars and international organizations such as the World Bank at more than 0.4.

If China manages sustainable development, energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) will decrease by 15 to 20 times, the report says.

Last year, the central government set a target of cutting energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20 per cent in the next five years, which means a 4 per cent reduction annually. However, the goal was not realized in 2006.

But Lu Yongxiang, CAS president and editor-in-chief of the series, said that the goals are scientific and realistic.

They have been carefully measured by researchers and can be shifted to suit government priorities, Lu told China Daily yesterday at a news conference.

However, China has to overcome a lot of barriers, said Niu Wenyuan, executive editor-in-chief of the report, who is also CAS' chief scientist for sustainable development.

The biggest challenges include the huge population, limited energy and resources, deteriorating environment, the widening urban-rural gap, and a lack of social equality.

To overcome these, Niu said that China should maintain rational economic growth, and the government should make sure the growth is focused on meeting the basic needs of common people.

(China Daily 02/12/2007 page1)

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