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China Population to Drop in 2022 As Newborns Hit Decade Low
Published on: 2021-04-29
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China's population is likely to start to decline as early as 2022, ending a five-decade trend of growth, and China may adopt major policy adjustments such as fully lifting birth restrictions and encouraging more births at that point, Chinese demographers said, ahead of the release of results from the once-a-decade national census.

China on November 1, 2020, started its seventh national population count, with about 7 million census takers going door-to-door to document demographic changes in the world's most populous country.

Although China's actual population probably didn't start falling last year, the population growth rate has been falling for years, and so China's population may actually reach a peak within a year or two before starting to decline.

He Yafu, an independent demographer, said that the gap between the number of deaths and newborns in recent years had become smaller, and deaths may outnumber births starting in 2022, which would mean that the population would shrink from that point.

However, Chinese analysts said that the results of the seventh census, which will be released amid the grim assumption that the country's population is about to start falling as early as next year, will serve as an important reference for China's population policy adjustment, which may come in the next year or two.

He Yafu said that China's policy-makers may make major changes and fully lift birth restrictions and encourage births as early as 2022.

A decline in the population would lead to a drop in the labor force and a reduction in innovation ability, and yields from investment would fall, increasing the financial pressure for retirees. All of this would eventually cause a longer-term economic downturn, experts said.

Fully lifting birth restrictions will not be enough to avert a fall in China's total population. Instead, China should come up with more measures to encourage births, such as subsidizing couples who choose to have more than one baby.

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