China’s Population Declines for First Time in Six Decades


China says its population declined last year, the first such decline in the world’s second largest economy in six decades.

Figures released Tuesday by the Bureau of Statistics show China had 9.56 million births in 2022, while 10.41 million people died, a decline of 850,000 people. The decline was the first since the late 1950s, when founder Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward economic experiment caused massive famine, killing millions of people.

The declining birth rates are a result of China’s decades-long policy that limited families to just one child. Beijing relaxed the policy in 2016, and has since introduced numerous incentives to couples to encourage them to start families, including direct cash payments.

But many young Chinese couples are either settling for just one child, or forgoing having children altogether, due to the rising cost of living in the country of 1.41 billion people.

Experts say the falling birth rates will leave China without enough young people of working age to maintain the country’s economic engine and contribute to a pension system that is already under pressure to sustain a rapidly aging population.

Source: Voice of America