Last year, China’s national birth rate dropped to 6.77 births per 1,000 people, a record low and down from 7.52 in 2021.
In an announcement on Tuesday, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced that the country’s population in 2022 was down to 1.411 billion people, down 850,000 people from 2021.
In a long time, deaths had surpassed births for the first time.
A decline in China’s population last occurred in 1961, during the Great Famine, which killed tens of millions and was caused by former Communist Chairman Mao Zedong’s calamitous social experiment, as Japan Times (JT) said, A Great Leap Forward.
China’s population decline is not caused by one single factor.
What are the contributing factors to the current situation?
The One-Child Policy
In 1980, China introduced a one-child policy, which was abandoned in 2016, when families were allowed to have two children. This scheme did not work as planned.
Couples with more than one child were punished and forced to have abortions, and the one-child policy led to more males being born (since boys were favored) than females.
“Over the past six years, the country’s birth rate has fallen to a record low of 6.77 births per 1,000 people,” according to the BBC.
A New Generation, A New Perspective.
A 37-year-old father of a three-year-old girl, Ding Ding, told Japan Times: “People born in the 1980s or 1990s are not as keen on having children as our parents’ generation.”
“Our parents think having more children will provide them with more care when they grow old. But the younger generation doesn’t think the same anymore. They believe raising one child is already a lot of work.”
Even after the Chinese government abandoned the one-child policy for two in 2016 and three in 2021, few couples felt the need to adhere to it.
The Increasing Cost Of Raising Children
According to the Sixth Tone website, the average cost of raising a child in China in 2019 was 485,000 yuan ($76,760), nearly seven times the country’s per capita GDP.
From pregnancy to birth to tuition to other related expenses until the child became an adult at 18 years old, the institute took all of these into account.
According to Sixth Tone, “raising a child to adulthood in China is more expensive than in the United States, France, Germany, and Japan”.
Preconceptions Of Society
The Chinese government has eased the one-child rule and provided incentives for young couples to have children, but some remain skeptical.
The Japan Times reports that some Chinese internet users are complaining about employers’ attitudes towards women and how they are reluctant to assign women to desirable positions because they are worried women will take time off to have children.
In the job market, they worry if you’re 23-30, you’ll get married and have a kid, if you’re 30-35, you’ll have another or third child, and if you’re over 35, then sorry, a local woman told the Japan Times.
There is no need for all those policies to encourage births and open up when this kind of social setting already acts as the best contraceptive.
Some say all is not lost…
Population Matters, a UK-based company describes its mission as “working globally to achieve a sustainable future for people and the planet.”
In a news release upon the revelation of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, Robin Maynard, executive director of Population Matters, said: that rather than obsessing about birth rates, the Chinese Government could better manage this inevitable transition by encouraging and mobilizing an older workforce, and by prioritizing wellbeing over economic power, both for its citizens and for the world.
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