China records population decline for second straight year

Kathmandu: China’s population has declined for a second consecutive year, underscoring concerns about the future growth of the world’s second-largest economy.

Data released on Wednesday showed a population of 1.409 billion at the end of 2023 – a 2.08m decrease from 2022.

The most recent decline is double that of the previous year, which marked the first population drop in 60 years.

But experts say this fall is expected given the country’s expanding urban class and record-low birth rate.

Beijing on Wednesday said the birth rate was now down to 6.39 per 1,000 people on par with other advanced East Asian nations such as Japan and South Korea.

The country has seen falling birth rates for decades – after imposing a controversial one child-policy in the 1980s to control over-population at the time.

The government lifted the policy in 2015 to try to stem the population fall, and has brought in a series of other incentives too, such as subsidies and payments to encourage people to start families. In 2021, it further relaxed the limit to allow couples to have up to three children.

However, the policies have had little impact, with young people in modern cities citing deterrents like the cost of living and career priorities after a three-year Covid period.

Experts on Wednesday cited the impact of the pandemic in accelerating the decline in new births. However, they suggested that the underlying economic issues were a greater factor.

News Source: BBC