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China’s population is falling for the first time in 60 years

Posted by on 2023/01/19. Filed under Breaking News,China,Headline News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

China’s leadership has long known that the country is approaching a demographic inflection point. Policymakers have warned that China must prepare for an era of shrinking population and a shrinking workforce with more retirees. State media have urged young couples to have two or three children as soon as possible, and the government has eased birth restrictions in an effort to ease looming economic woes.
But the incipient sense of crisis intensified on Tuesday when the government confirmed that China’s population had declined last year for the first time in six decades, a turning point that was faster and more abrupt than many experts had predicted.

While Chinese officials have warned of an irreversible turning point in the population, many experts and Chinese citizens believe they are not adequately prepared for the long-term demands of an aging society.

China’s abrupt abandonment of its coronavirus “zero clearance” policy has exposed the government’s lack of preparedness for an outbreak of infection. Similarly, growing demographic pressures may reveal that governments have not done enough to avoid the prospect of being forced to make tough choices over competing priorities in the coming decades. For example, how to meet the different needs of caring for young children versus caring for the elderly. Whether to spend money on social welfare or to build technology and military power.

Many social media posts and interviews after the release of the latest population statistics suggested that the government’s measures might be too little, too late. In the view of many, the government has done little to address the deeper reasons why many young couples choose to have only one child, or none at all, such as the cost of parenting and education, and the lack of substantial government support, both at home and in the workplace, especially for women.

“I want to have a baby, but life is too stressful,” Wu Yilan, 34, a shopkeeper in Beijing, said in a telephone interview. She said she had discussed the issue with her ex-boyfriend. “If you have a partner, you probably want to have one.”

Anxiety and debate about a new age of Chinese population has been growing as the birth rate has fallen, especially in recent years, and has reached a tipping point: China’s population fell by 850,000 in 2022, the first time since the early 1960s that the number of deaths in China exceeded the number of births.

Chinese demographers, economists and business leaders have floated many ideas on how to support the growing number of elderly and encourage couples to have more children. The government had already scrapped the three-decade-old “one-child” policy in 2016, allowing couples to have two children before raising it to three in 2021.

Still, most couples have only one child, although two children are more common in rural areas. Many young people, especially women, are skeptical that the government will make it easier for them to keep their jobs after having children.

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