For the first time in fifty years, China’s population is declining according to media reports — the latest census is expected to show a dip below 1.4 billion. Meanwhile, China’s birth rate has decreased, with 32,000 fewer births last year, and Beijing registering a ten-year low.
Update: Following widespread media reports that the census was expected to show a dip in China’s population, the authorities have since disputed this claim and insisted that the country’s population continues to grow. The official statistics are yet to be released.
Family planning policy is relaxing, but China’s birth rate has continued to drop, leading to questions over economic growth, an aging population, and a shrinking labor pool.
China’s Minister of Civil Affairs, Li Jiheng, published a viral article highlighting that the total fertility rate had fallen below the government’s “warning line.” The National Bureau of Statistics also published data in January 2020, showing that the country’s birth rate fell to 10.48% in 2019, its lowest point since 2000.
In December 2020, there was even talk of introducing a new “three-child policy,” but it seems the move would have little impact on the One-Child Generation’s lukewarm desire to have kids.
Netizens have been quick to respond to the reports on Weibo.
“The pressure of life makes young people feel that being without children is more relaxing, whereas having a family will be very stressful,” wrote one.
“The cost of living is increasing and so is work pressure,” wrote another. “Many people just don’t have time for children.”
As China’s living costs continue to rise, many millennials just can’t see themselves having a child and being able to provide the ‘best life’ for them. Others would rather focus on their careers, seeing kids as a limitation to their success. Some just flat out don’t want to get married, viewing marriage as “trouble.”
Cover image via Unsplash
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