National Bureau of Statistics reported drop of 2.08m, or 0.15%, bringing total population to 1.409b
China’s population has declined for the second consecutive year, marking a significant demographic shift with profound implications for the nation’s economic trajectory, Reuters reported.
The National Bureau of Statistics reported a drop of 2.08 million people, or 0.15%, bringing the total population to 1.409 billion in 2023. This decline follows a record-low birth rate and a surge in COVID-19 deaths following the lifting of strict lockdowns.
The COVID-19 surge contributed to a 6.6% increase in total deaths, reaching 11.1 million, the highest death rate since 1974. New births fell by 5.7% to 9.02 million, with a record-low birth rate of 6.39 births per 1,000 people.
China’s birth rate has been decreasing for decades due to factors such as the one-child policy (1980-2015) and rapid urbanisation, making child-rearing more expensive.
Economic challenges, including high youth unemployment, falling wages for white-collar workers, and a property sector crisis, further deterred family planning in 2023.
The data raises concerns about China’s economic prospects, indicating diminishing growth potential due to a shrinking workforce and consumer base. As elderly care costs rise, and retirement benefits strain local governments, the challenges of an ageing population loom large.
The ageing population is a growing concern, with those aged 60 and overreaching 296.97 million in 2023, comprising 21.1% of the total population. The strain on the pension system is anticipated to lead to financial challenges, with projections indicating a shortfall by 2035.
Efforts by local governments to encourage childbirth through measures like tax deductions and longer maternity leave face challenges, prompting calls for a unified nationwide family subsidy scheme. The reluctance to have children is influenced by factors such as high childcare costs, job market uncertainty, gender discrimination, and traditional family expectations.