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China’s Population Sees Second Consecutive Year of Decline

China’s population fell by 2 million people in 2023, marking the second straight annual decrease. The country’s population now stands at 1.4 billion. This drop in population can be attributed to a decline in births and a rapidly aging population. This trend is likely to have some major implications for the Chinese economy, as a shrinking workforce could slow economic growth and put strain on social services.

The number of people living on Earth was 1.409 billion at the end of 2023, which is 2.08 million less than in 2022.

The most recent drop in population is twice as big as the drop the year before, which was the first drop in 60 years.

But experts say this fall is likely because the country’s urban class is growing and the birth rate is at an all-time low.

Beijing said on Wednesday that the birth rate had dropped to 6.39 per 1,000 people, the same as Japan and South Korea and other advanced East Asian countries.

China Population: One Child Policy

Since the country put in place a controversial “one child” policy in the 1980s to control overpopulation, birth rates have been going down for decades.

In 2015, the government ended the policy to try to stop the population drop. They have also put in place a number of other benefits, such as payments and grants to encourage people to start families. As of 2021, couples could have up to three children, which was an even bigger change.

But the policies haven’t had much of an effect. After three years, young people in modern towns said that the cost of living and job goals were keeping them from moving.

How Do People Stand for This?

China woman Wang Chengyi, 31, said, “My husband and I want to have a child but we can’t afford it right now.”

She told the BBC that she and her husband would have to save money for three more years in order to pay for the costs of having a child, especially school costs.

“I do want to have a baby while I’m still young because it’s better for my health.” But I don’t have enough money right now, so I have to put it off. “It’s a shame, and sometimes it makes me feel scared,” she said.

Wednesday, experts said that the pandemic was one reason why the number of births was dropping faster. But they said that the underlying economic problems were a bigger reason.

On Wednesday, Chinese internet users also pointed out that prices were going up.

“If you make life easier and safer for people, of course more people will want kids,” one Weibo user wrote in a comment that got a lot of likes.

China Population: Dropping Birth Rate

From 1978 to 2022, this graph shows China’s birthrate per 1,000 people. In the past few years, there has been a steady drop.

Experts say that China is quickly losing its industry base, just like other countries that have done the same thing. The change has happened quickly, though.

“It’s not a shock. “Because they have one of the lowest birth rates in the world, the population stops growing and starts to go down,” explained Prof. Stuart Gietel-Basten, an expert on population policy at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“It’s pretty much set in stone now… From now on, China’s population will either stay the same or go down every year.

In 2023, China’s economic problems really came to the fore. The country was dealing with a broad real estate crisis, falling consumer spending, and a high number of young people without jobs after the pandemic.

Annual data released on Wednesday proved the problems. It showed that the economy had grown at one of the slowest rates in more than 30 years. GDP rose at 5.2% to reach 126 trillion yuan ($17.5tn; £13.8tn) in 2023.

This was the worst result since 1990, if you don’t count the years of the pandemic. In 2022, the GDP growth rate was a record-low 3%.

Chinas’s Population: China’s Government

China also said on Wednesday that the jobless rate for young people in December was 14.1%. This was down from 21.3% in June, when China stopped sharing monthly numbers for a while.

Some people are likely to be even more worried about the economy after seeing the latest population numbers. China’s economy has long been driven by an aging workforce.

As the number of retirees grows—it’s expected to reach 400 million by 2035, a 60% rise. The country’s health care and pension services are now under more stress.

But experts say the country has enough time and money to handle the change in its workforce.

“China is the same as other countries that have moved away from manufacturing and into the service sector.” Prof. Gietel-Basten said, “People are getting smarter, more skilled, and healthier, and they want to do other jobs instead of working in factories or construction.”

“The government is aware of this and has planned for this over the past decade and so it’s expected to continue with this kind of direction.”

China used to have more people than any other country, but India passed it last year, according to the UN. India has 1.425 billion people living there.

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