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China’s population falls for first time in 60 years

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 17 January 2023, 15:12 IST
China’s population falls

In a significant development, China - the world's most populous nation - has reported a decline in population for the first time in 60 years, marking a historic turn. This is expected to signal a prolonged period of population decline for the country.

China has recorded a record low in birth rates as its workforce ages, this decline has raised alarm among analysts who warn it could impede economic growth and add strain to the country's already burdened public finances.

Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that the population of mainland Chinese stood at approximately 1,411,750,000 at the end of 2022. As per the numbers, the population has decreased by 850,000 from the end of the previous year.

As per NBS data, the numbers of births in China was 9.56 million, while the numbers of deaths was at 10.41 million. The data also shows that men continued to outnumber women by 722.06 million to 689.69 million.

First Decline In Population Since 1961

The country of 1.4 billion has witnessed the first decline in population since 1961. In 1961, a time when the country was struggling with the worst famine in its modern history, a result of Mao Zedong's flawed agricultural policy known as the Great Leap Forward.

India To Surpass China In Population

It is been so long that China has held the world’s most populous nation title, but is expected to soon be overtaken by India. Estimations place India's population at above 1.4 billion. According to NBS head Kang Yi, citizens should not worry about the China’s population decline as the country’s overall labour supply still exceeds demand, reported Aljazeera.

One Child Policy

The strict ‘one child policy’ of China ended in 2016. The country allowed its citizens to have three children in 2021, the policy change has not reversed the demographic decline. According to United Nations experts, China’s population could reduce by 109 million by the year 2050. The experts have tripled the decline of their previous forecast in 2019.

Demographic Crisis

China has taken numerous efforts to avoid a ‘demographic crisis’, including ending the strict ‘one-child policy’ in 2016 and increasing parental leave as well as subsidies but such initiatives do not appear to have worked, reported Al Jazeera. The major reason for Chinese people having fewer children is rising costs of living in the cities and the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Xiujian Peng, a senior research fellow at the Centre of Policy Studies at Australia’s University of Victoria said that fertility rate has declined in China and it is now lower than several countries including the United States, Australia, and Japan, reported Al Jazeera.

As per the news agency AFP, the citizens of China are also “getting used to the small family because of the decades-long one-child policy. Since being shared, the new figures were among the top trending topics in Chinese social media. Hashtag #Isitreallyimportanttohaveoffspring? (Is it really important to have offspring?) has millions of hits.

First published: 17 January 2023, 15:12 IST