China's population falls for the first time in over 60 years
The government statistics reveal that 10.41 million people died in the country in 2022 while only 9.56 million people were born in the year.
The Chinese government on Tuesday announced that its population had fallen for the first time in over six decades. The government statistics reveal that 10.41 million people died in the country in 2022, while only 9.56 million people were born in the year.
This is the first time since the early 1960s that deaths outnumbered births in China. Back then, the demographic crisis was due to widespread famine and death caused by the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong’s failed economic experiment.
The birth data shows that 13 provinces had a negative population growth rate; only six among the top 10 provinces had birth numbers exceeding 500,000.
The Xi Jinping authorities, perhaps, saw the writing on the wall much earlier. However, despite adopting measures like ending the stringent 'one-child policy' in 2016 and then in 2021 allowing couples to have three children failed to stem the population decline.
Some media reports cited the cost of having children in China is on the rise. In fact, childbirth on the mainland sometimes pushed people into poverty. At the same time, people's thinking about starting a family and marriage is constantly changing, thus affecting the birth rates. However, the biggest reason being cited is the restrictions imposed during the Coronavirus period and the resulting economic slowdown.
Even though cities like Shenzhen offer a birth bonus and allowances for kids up to the age of three, and some others like Jinan offer a monthly stipend for couples who have a second child, the country's demographic outlook continues to remain bleak.
According to experts, this demographic crisis could hinder economic growth and put more pressure on strained public coffers. To note, the population of China takes into account people from 31 states. It does not include Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
According to Yuan Xin, a professor of demographics from the School of Economics at Nankai University, negative population growth is the inevitable result of the country's long-term low fertility rate, and China's population has entered an era of zero growth.
India set to surpass China
The United Nations projection notes that India is set to surpass China as the world's most populous country in 2023. Compared to China's 1.426 billion, India was home to 1.417 billion people as of 2022. While India's population continues to grow, China's population is expected to decline to 1.313 billion by 2050.