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Number Theory: What information does data concerning China’s population decline give us?

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China’s population decline gained momentum in 2023, as per official data released on Wednesday, marking a continuation of the downward trend that has persisted for over six decades. This decline poses a significant challenge to China, once the most populous country globally, as it grapples with an impending demographic crisis.

After being surpassed by India in population last year, Beijing is now actively seeking measures to counter falling birth rates, employing strategies such as subsidies and pro-fertility campaigns. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the national population reached 1,409.67 million by the end of 2023, reflecting a decrease of 2.08 million compared to the end of 2022.

China’s Population Continues to Fall: Slumping Birth Rate Beats Previous Record

  • Falling faster than ever: China’s population decline accelerated sharply in 2023, with nearly two million fewer people than the year before, marking the second consecutive year of shrinkage.
  • Birth rate nosedives: The number of births plummeted to 9.02 million, down from 9.56 million in 2022, reflecting a birth rate of just 6.39 per thousand.
  • Policy pivot proves insufficient: Scrapping the “one-child” policy and allowing three children hasn’t stemmed the tide, raising concerns for the country’s economic engine.
  • Cost of living, and career ambitions bite: Soaring expenses and women’s career aspirations are seen as key factors pushing families away from having more children.
  • Demographer paints a grim picture: “Reverse the decline? Impossible,” says independent demographer He Yafu. “Lower birth rates are here to stay.”

In an effort to delay an impending economic crisis due to the diminishing pool of working-age adults, He suggested that the government should introduce additional incentives. These may include childrearing stipends, the expansion of universal child-care services, and an increase in the enrollment rate of children under the age of three in nursery schools.