China reports lowest birth rate in decades

China has reported its lowest birth rate since 1978: 8.52 births per 1,000 people in 2020, and these numbers are getting dangerously close to the death rate.

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FILE PHOTO: Children in Shanghai, China, 2020. Aly Song / Reuters
China allows couples to have a 3rd child in order to fix the country’s aging population problem

According to the Yearbook 2021, published by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics, the death rate last year was 7.07 per 1,000 people. That means that the natural growth rate of the population is at a record low level of 1.45 compared to 3.32 in 2019. The birth rate has been in steady decline since 2016 after decades of family planning policies and the changing economic climate.

According to census data released by China in spring, 12 million babies were born in 2020, the lowest number since 1961. With people aged 60 and over accounting for 18.8% of the 1.4 billion population, China faces a major problem of an aging population.

Despite the recent decision to allow all couples to have a third child and other measures taken to increase birth rates, the Chinese authorities admit that an increasing number of Chinese people from all ethnic groups are choosing to marry late and to have smaller families for economic and educational reasons.

The number of marriage registrations dropped this year too to 814.3 per 10,000 couples.

The next ten years will be a major turning point for my country’s population to enter negative growth,” warned He Dan, the director of the China Population Development and Research Center, in an article published earlier this year.

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