China’s population shrinks for first time in more than 60 years

Shanghai, China, Jan 17 (EFE).- The population of China, the world’s most populous nation, shrank last year for the first time in more than 60 years, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday.

The country closed 2022 with 1,411,750,000 people, a drop of some 850,000 on the previous year – the first fall since 1961.

State media had already suggested last week the possibility of this happening based on the estimates of demographic experts, who attributed the situation to a drop in the number of births which, according to NBS data, fell from 10.62 million in 2021 to 9.56 million.

The population’s negative growth was expected by authorities before 2025

The figures also showed an increase in deaths, from 10.14 million to 10.41 million

It was also confirmed once again that the country has an aging population, since the percentage of people of working age (16 to 59 years old) fell from 62.5 percent of the total population to 62 percent, while that of people aged 60 or over rose from 18.9 percent to 19.8 percent.

An elderly woman wearing a face mask walks on the street with her vegetable basket in Beijing, China, 10 November 2022. EPA-EFE FILE/WU HAO

National authorities had already forecast that the country’s population was on track to experience negative growth before 2025.

After decades imposing a one-child policy and later extending it to two, China has allowed its citizens to have a third child since 2021, although the decision has not been welcomed with great enthusiasm by the population, due to factors including the economic burden of raising children and women prioritizing their careers.

The fertility rate fell below the replacement level of 2.1 in 1992 and in 2020, down to 1.3, which has caused various locations in the country to announce support policies or even subsidies for those who decide to have children.

International experts have predicted that neighboring India, with a population of about 1.38 billion, will overtake China in the near future to become the most populous country on Earth. EFE