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China will soon not be the most populous country in the world.
On Tuesday, the government released data from a census conducted once every decade late last year showing that population growth has slowed to the point of creep. Meanwhile, the proportion of elderly people in China has expanded, the category of people of working age has shrunk, and births have decreased.
The data sheds new light on one of the ruling Communist Party’s biggest long-term socioeconomic challenges as it turns 100 this year: how to keep the economy booming and entering while the population shrinks and ages.
The proportion of people between the ages of 15 and 59 made up about two-thirds of the population, but decreased by 7 percentage points from 2010, while the proportion of people aged 60 or over increased by more than 5 percentage points. This means that fewer workers will support more retirees in the coming years.
“The aging of the population has deepened, and in the coming period [we will] “We continue to face pressure for long-term balanced development of the population,” said Ning Jize, head of the Chinese Bureau of Statistics, at a press conference on Tuesday in Beijing.
The statistics showed that in 2020, the population of China reached 1.412 billion. That’s an increase of about 72 million – more than the population of France – since the last census a decade ago. The tally does not include Hong Kong and Macau.
However, the average annual rate of increase was around 0.53%, which is a slowdown from the rate during the decade before the 2010 census.
Decades of stellar economic growth were supported by favorable demographics in China. But the calculus is changing, and China’s average income remains relatively low.
Ning said the population will eventually peak, but it is not clear exactly when. Some demographers believe that will happen in the next few years, and India will almost certainly assume the mantle of the world’s most populous country long before China conducts its next census in 2030.
“We are already witnessing a domestic and global shift in terms of demographics,” said Wang Feng, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine.
Chinese policymakers sought to manipulate demographics to meet economic needs, starting in the late 1970s with a “one-child policy” that limited the vast majority of couples in China to one child.
But in 2016, the ruling Communist Party relaxed this policy. But birth rates have Anemia remained This is partly because the one-child policy itself has caused a decrease in the number of women of childbearing age.
In March, the Chinese central bank recommended a report The government has completely abolished restrictions on childbirth and “removes the difficulties women face during pregnancy, childbirth, kindergarten, and school enrollment by all means.”
“If China narrowed the gap with the United States over the past 40 years, relying on cheap labor and a huge demographic dividend, what would it depend on for the next 30 years? This deserves our deep concern,” the report said.
Rapid urbanization in China has been one of the biggest changes highlighted by the census.
Last year, urban residents made up 63.89% of the population, an increase of more than 14 percentage points over the previous census, while the rural population decreased to about a third of the population.
“In just 10 years, China has truly turned into a truly different society,” Wang said.
“Hundreds of millions of people… have moved to be urban dwellers. But at the same time, there is no local record of families of about 200 million urban dwellers, which means that they are not entitled to receive local benefits. This shows how difficult the challenge China faces The integration of these people into the cities. “
According to the census, Chinese mothers gave birth to 12 million children last year, down 22% from the previous year. The South China Morning Newspaper He said it was the lowest level for nearly six decades – and well below the rate needed to stabilize the population.
The NBS said that the gender imbalance in China persisted, but showed little improvement.
The data showed that about 51.24% of the population were male in 2020, while 48.76% were female.