China is grappling with a significant decline in its population, according to recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics. The total population of mainland China has witnessed a sharp drop of 2.08 million, bringing the overall number down to 1.4097 billion. This decline is coupled with a record low birth rate, signaling potential challenges for the world’s second-largest economy.
The birth rate in China has hit an all-time low, as reported by the South China Morning Post. In 2023, the birth rate dropped by 5.6 percent to 9.02 million births, a significant decrease from the previous year’s 9.56 million. This decline in the birth rate is concerning, and it has reached levels not seen since 1949, with only 6.39 births per 1,000 people.
Moreover, the overall population decrease in 2023 marks a 0.15 percent drop compared to the previous year. In 2022, China’s total population stood at 1.4118 billion. The Statistics Bureau’s findings highlight a worrying trend that has implications for the country’s demographic landscape.
In addition to the population decline, the death toll has risen to 11.1 million, resulting in a national death rate of 7.87 per 1,000 people. The increase in the death rate is primarily attributed to COVID-19-related fatalities. This suggests that the ongoing pandemic is contributing to the challenges China is facing in maintaining a stable population.
The demographic shift in China is not only about the numbers but also about the socio-economic factors influencing the low birth rate. Experts attribute the decline in births to high youth unemployment rates, stagnant wages for white-collar workers, and a housing crisis. These factors create a challenging environment for young families, impacting their decisions on family planning.
As a consequence of these demographic challenges, China is likely to face major economic hurdles. A shrinking workforce, reduced consumer spending, and an aging population are among the concerns raised by experts. These factors can have a cascading effect on the economy, affecting various sectors and creating a ripple effect throughout the country.
It’s crucial to note that the World Bank classifies a country as “aged” when 14 percent or more of its population is 65 years or older. China entered this category for the first time in 2021. The term “super-aged” is used when the proportion of the population aged 65 or older exceeds 20 percent. China’s demographic shift is a cause for concern, signaling a shift towards an aging society with potential long-term consequences.