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Population in China Declines for First Time in Decades

Population in China Declines for First Time in Decades
Population in China Declines for First Time in Decades. Credit: Kyla Duhamel / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

China has reported its first population decline in decades. On Tuesday, the National Bureau of Statistics said that, compared to the end of 2021, the population of the nation had decreased by 850,000. This number does not include the populations of Hong Kong or Macao, nor does it account for any foreign nationals who may be living in China.

The bureau reported during a briefing on Tuesday that with 9.56 million births and 10.41 million deaths, the total population is now 1.41 billion. Due to the strict one-child policy that was only officially repealed in 2016 and the historic preference for male kids to carry on the family name, males surpassed females, numbered at 722.06 million and 689.69 million, respectively.

China’s efforts to encourage families to have multiple children since abandoning the policy have been largely unsuccessful, reflecting feelings across much of East Asia, where birth rates have dropped significantly. There are a myriad of reasons for this, as widely discussed within Chinese society, but one of these is the high cost of raising children in a city.

China to lose the title of “Most Populated Country”

While China has held the title of the most populated country for some time now, India is set to overtake it quite soon. According to recent estimates, India’s population is now over 1.4 billion and rising.

The Great Leap Forward that began at the end of the 1950s under then-leader Mao Zedong’s drive for collective farming and industrialization, is often regarded as the last time China’s population dropped.

According to Yi Fuxian, a demographer and expert on Chinese population trends at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the drop in China’s population began nine to ten years earlier than the Chinese government and the United Nations had projected.

This means that China’s “real demographic crisis is beyond imagination and that all of China’s past economic, social, defense, and foreign policies were based on faulty demographic data,” Yi told the Associated Press.

According to Yi, the population decline in China has been ongoing since 2018, proving the issue is “much more severe” than was previously believed. He also noted that China’s fertility rate is currently just the third lowest in the world following Taiwan and South Korea.

Chinese population statistics

According to the Chinese statistics bureau, sixty-two percent of the country’s population is comprised of individuals aged sixteen to fifty-nine. This amounts to 875.56 million people. The number of those aged sixty-five and over is at 209.78 million. This makes up 14.9 percent of the population.

In addition, the data revealed a trend toward urbanization in a country that had previously been predominantly rural. The rural population decreased by 7.31 million during the period of 2022, while the urban population grew by 6.46 million, reaching a total of 920.71 million (65.22 percent).

Although the COVID-19 pandemic was initially reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, it has since spread over the world. It is not yet known whether or not these population estimates have been further influenced by the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been no published estimates of the true number of deaths from the virus in China, and some professionals have been accused of underreporting deaths by linking these to underlying conditions.

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