Population crisis in China
Births in China fell 15% over 2019, according to data from the Ministry of Public Security, with 10.04 million births in China last year compared to 11.79 million a year earlier.
Urbanization and the one-child policy have resulted in a rapidly aging population that will put pressure on public finances in the coming decades.
In many Chinese cities, birth figures mirror the national trend. Guangzhou reported a 9% decline in births. Other cities reported double-digit drops.
Although the actual number of newborns each year is usually higher than the official registration figure, because some babies are not registered in time and therefore not counted by the Ministry of Security, many still see the decline as evidence of China’s failure to manage its population crisis.
Overall, the number of newborns in China has been steadily declining since 2016, when Beijing officially ended the one-child policy that began in 1979.
The country’s marriage rate meanwhile has plummeted to 6.6 per 1,000 people in 2019, the lowest level in 14 years. Many women have started social media campaigns to encourage young people not to marry, as a way to show their discontent with the country’s discriminatory policies against women in the labor market and higher education.
Fewer births mean less labor supply, which in turn increases pressure on a pension system that relies on contributions from the working population. China had 254 million elderly residents aged 60 and older in 2019, according to the statistics bureau, the falling birth rate has sparked a debate on Chinese social media, where people complain about the country’s rising house prices, a stalled economy, and rising education costs as the main reasons for not wanting to have children.
According to some analysts, China’s state pension scheme could run out of funds by 2035 due to a shrinking workforce.
The featured image is a Chinese propaganda poster that reads: 实行计划生育贯彻基本国策 (Shixing jihua shengyu, guanche jiben guoce), or “Carry out family planning, implement the basic national policy”