China’s population to start shrinking by 2025: Officials

China’s birth rate has fallen to a record low despite Beijing easing its strict one-child policy in 2016. – AFP
  • China is grappling with a growing demographic crisis.
  • The total fertility rate has fallen below 1.3 in recent years.
  • The world population is expected to reach eight billion in November 2022.

BEIJING: China’s population will begin to shrink by 2025, officials have said, as family sizes shrink and citizens age.

The world’s most populous country faces a growing population crisis as it faces a rapidly aging workforce, a slowing economy and its weakest population growth in decades.

And although authorities relaxed the country’s strict “one-child policy” in 2016 and last year allowed couples to have three children, the birth rate has fallen to a record low.

The National Health Commission said on Monday, referring to the period between 2021 and 2025, “The total population growth rate has decreased significantly, and it will enter the phase of negative growth during the ’14th Five-Year Plan’ period.” will go.”

In January, officials said the population was forecast to enter zero growth “or even negative growth” over that five-year period.

“Currently our country’s policy system to support childbirth is far from perfect, and there is a large gap between population growth and people’s expectations,” the NHC said in its latest report.

It added that the fertility rate has fallen below 1.3 in recent years, while the country is expected to enter a severe aging phase around 2035, with more than 30 percent of the population over 60.

Families are also getting smaller, “weakening” pensions and childcare jobs, the Health Commission said, with housing, education to help improve support for raising children and reduce the burden on families. And emphasized on making tax related policies.

In some parts of China, authorities are already introducing family-friendly policies to combat declining birth rates.

The eastern city of Hangzhou announced Monday that families with three children will be able to borrow 20 percent more than the maximum limit when they first apply for Housing Provident Fund loans.

Other cities such as Nanchang and Changsha have also enacted supportive policies, according to state media.

Higher living costs and cultural change have been cited as reasons behind the low number of children, along with people becoming accustomed to smaller families.

The “one-child policy” was introduced by then-leader Deng Xiaoping in 1980 to curb population growth and promote economic growth, with some exceptions for rural families and ethnic minorities.

According to United Nations estimates, the world population is expected to reach eight billion in November 2022, with India set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country in 2023.