Geopolitics & World-affairs

Seismic Shift In China's History: China's Population Shrink For The First Time In 60 Years

For the first time in 62 years, China, the world's most populous country, experienced a population decline. China's population last declined in 1961, during the final year of the "Great Famine" under the founding father of China's communist party and the country's leader "Mao Zedong". 

China's population fell by 8,500,000 in 2022, marking a watershed demographic shift for the world's third-largest economy, which aims to be the world's largest economy by 2040 by defeating the United States. 

In 2022, 9.56 million babies were born, compared to 10.62 million in 2021, a decrease for the first time since 1950. China's birth rate has not only declined, but the death rate has also increased slightly in 2021, with the death toll this year standing at 10.41 million, slightly higher than the previous year's figure.

China's population is now 1.426 billion, making it the world's most populous country. This is more than Europe's population of 704 million, America's population of 1.04 billion, and roughly equal to Africa's population of 1.472 billion. However, the number will decline from 1.426 billion in 2022 to 1.313 billion by 2050 and below 800 million by 2100. 

Although, the Chinese population is decreasing, but the fertility rate will increase from today's 1.18 to 1.45 in 2100. In this timeline, the population of the United State will increase from 337 million today to 394 million in 2100. By using the UN's high variant scenario the population of the US will be 543 million by 2100, while in the low variant scenario, the US population would be shrunk to 281 million. Some demographers don't believe this data. According to them, the Chinese population has already peaked in 2021 or earlier, and it is declining due to the nature of the population decline. It happens when the population reached its peak. 

What are the causes of the decline in the Chinese population?

1. China's fertility rate is estimated to be 1.18 children per woman, a significant decrease from the previous decade and well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. The fertility rate in China is also declining because of rapid development, and urbanization at an exponential rate, because of that life in China became very fast like in western nations. 

2. The main reason for the population decline is the country's "One Child Policy" implemented in the 1980s. China used that policy to put pressure on its people to take the prescribed measures, even though the people were not ready for them. 

However, the Chinese government relaxed the one china policy and changed it to the two-child policy in 2016. Later in 2021, It was updated to a three-child policy, but there was no significant enthusiasm among the population. And leads us to the third point. 

3. In those years, the Chinese economy grow at a significant rate, and along with the Chinese economy, the lifestyle of the Chinese population has also changed significantly. With the change in lifestyle, goods and services also became expensive as well. Because of that, raising children in China also became very expensive and there is no sign of declination in this matter. According to YuWa population research institute, a Beijing-based think tank, China is one of the most expensive places to raise a child, and this is one of the main concerns for Chinese mothers who want to have more children.

4. In addition, women are deferring to having children until later in life. Since 2000, the average childbearing age has risen by three years, from 26 to 29. In comparison, the average childbearing age has risen by only one year in middle-income countries. In 2010, Chinese women's childbearing age was 24, but it went up to 28 in 2020. 

5. China has one of the most skewed gender ratios at birth. Between 1970 and 2020, China accounted for 51% of the world's missing females. The main reason for this sudden increase is selective sex abortion. Since the Chinese government implemented the "One Child Policy," abortion rates have risen. China has the world's highest abortion rate per woman, with the most common age range being 15 to 49 - The "Guttmacher Institution" provided the data. 

6. The next problem is the rapidly aging Chinese population. Chinese working population is again at a rate of 30%, which is slightly lesser than the 35% league, the league occupied by Greece, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. On the other hand, the working population will increase by 20% in Australia, Mexico, and Israel.

More than 400 million Chinese people will reach the age of 60 by 2035. As a result, the populace is becoming more dependable. It is concerning for a country that aspires to be the world's largest economic power by 2040.

7. The final reason is migration; the Chinese population is leaving the country. More people are moving out of the country, than coming back. In 2021, more than 2,00,00 people left the country. Although this figure is lower than the 7,50,000 recorded in the 1990s. 

The Chinese government has become more authoritative and more centralized in recent days. Chinese President Xi Jinping is attempting to restore the ideologically strong China that existed during Mao Zedong's reign. 

Moreover, the Chinese government's "Zero Covid Policy" nearly destroyed the entire Chinese economy's architecture and infrastructural strength during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the people forced the government to restore normalcy by refusing to obey the government's orders. 

How will the rapid change in demography affect the Chinese economy?

There are pros and cons of having lesser population. In the case of China, the cons will be much heavier than the pros because the lesser population and aged population will force the Chinese government to redraw their plan regarding their economy, as they are trying to reach the top. 

When the population will go down abruptly it will create an anomaly in the economy. The economic activity will shrink with the shrink in population. 

As the economic activity will go on reducing, it will affect every avenue of the economy - from education, homes, retail, hospital businesses, and Multinational organizations, to even agriculture. People will engage less in every sector with the declining population.

That is why China is subsidizing the mothers who will go for more than one and in some places more than two babies. Some lucrative offers are being given by the government in some states to balance the locally skewed population graph. 

However, as time passes, the population of each nation will decrease, which will not increase because inflation will rise.