China’s population drops since 1961
Because of a national birth rate that has reached a record low of 6.77 births per 1,000 people, China’s population has dropped for the first time in 60 years.
A decrease of 850,000 people from 2021 to 2022 contributed to 2022’s smaller population estimate of 1.4118 billion.
In an effort to reverse the long-term decline in China’s birth rate, the government has implemented a number of measures.
However, the country has entered a “period of negative population growth” seven years after the one-child restriction was abolished.
According to data issued by China’s National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, the country’s birth rate fell to 7.28 in 2022 from 7.52 the previous year.
In 2021, the US had 11.06 live births per 1,000 people, while the UK had 10.08 live births per 1,000 people. India, soon to surpass China as the world’s most populated nation, had a birth rate of 16.42 per 1,000 residents in the same year.
Also, for the first time ever, deaths in China exceeded births in 2017. The death rate in the country rose to 7.37 per 1,000 in 2017 from 7.18 in 2016. This is the highest rate the country has seen since 1976.
Earlier official data had warned of a demographic problem that would reduce China’s labour force and increase the expense of healthcare and other social security costs in the long run.
In 2021, the results of a once-every-decade census revealed that China’s population growth had slowed to its lowest rate in decades. Similar trends may be seen in other East Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea, whose populations are dwindling and getting older as well.
After Covid, “this trend is going to persist and perhaps deteriorate,” says Yue Su, principal economist of the Economist Intelligence Unit. Experts like Ms. Su predict that China’s population will continue to decline through the year 2023.
She also noted that “the high youth unemployment rate and deficiencies in income expectations could delay marriage and birthing plans,” which would have a further negative impact on the birthrate.
Also, she predicted that by 2023, deaths caused by Covid infections will be higher than they had been before the pandemic. Since China lifted its zero-Covid policy earlier this month, the country has experienced a dramatic increase in reported cases.
The one-child policy, instituted in China in 1979 to curb population growth, has had a profound impact on the country’s demographic trends over the years. Those families who didn’t play by the rules got fines and even lost their jobs. The policy allegedly caused forced abortions and an imbalanced gender ratio beginning in the 1980s in a culture that has traditionally prioritised male offspring.
When it was revised in 2016, married couples were given permission to have two children. A number of incentives, including tax cuts and improved maternal healthcare, have been offered by the Chinese government in recent years in an effort to stop or at least reduce the declining birth rate.
There was no noticeable improvement in fertility rates as a result of these efforts. This, according to some experts, is because there hasn’t been a corresponding effort to reduce the financial and emotional strain of caring for children, such as providing greater support for working women or expanding educational opportunities.
When he took office in October 2022, Xi Jinping, the leader of China, made increasing the country’s birthrate a top priority. Mr. Xi announced at the Communist Party Congress, held every five years in Beijing, that his administration will “pursue a proactive national plan” to deal with China’s ageing population.
Bussarawan Teera wichitchainan, head of the Centre for Family and Population Research at the National University of Singapore, argued that China should do more to promote gender equality in the country’s homes and workplaces in addition to offering financial incentives to have children.
She also noted that the example of Scandinavian countries demonstrated that such measures can increase birth rates.
Paul Cheung, formerly Singapore’s chief statistician, claims that China has “enough of people” and “a lot of lead time” to deal with the demographic crisis.
Many analysts believe that China’s sluggish growth is due to structural issues that cannot be addressed by merely increasing the country’s birthrate.
Public policy expert at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Stuart Gietel-Basten remarked, “Boosting fertility is not likely to improve productivity or raise domestic consumption in the medium run.”