China’s population has started to shrink for the first time in six decades, a significant development for the world’s second-largest economy, which is currently facing a severe demographic crisis. According to data released by the National Statistics Bureau, China’s population stood at 1.41 billion people at the end of last year, which is 850,000 less than by the end of 2021. This marks the first drop in population since 1961, the final year of the Great Famine under former leader Mao Zedong.
Despite government efforts to encourage families to have more children, the birth rate in China has decreased. In 2022, 9.56 million babies were born, a decrease from the 10.62 million born the previous year. This marks the lowest birth rate since at least 1950. Additionally, the number of deaths in the country has slightly increased, with a total of 10.41 million people passing away. This rise in deaths is partly attributed to the surge in covid-related deaths, as China suffered a spike in fatalities following a change in approach to the virus in December. As infections are still spreading across the country, it is expected that more covid-related deaths will occur this year.
The demographic crisis in China has severe implications for the country’s economy and society. An aging population, coupled with a low birth rate, will lead to a decrease in the workforce and an increase in the number of dependents. This will have a significant impact on the country’s economic growth and social welfare system. The Chinese government needs to address this issue and implement policies to address the demographic crisis.