Why is China's population growing

China's population is growing more slowly than it has been in decades

Beijing - China's population is growing at a slower pace than it has been since the 1950s. It increased by 5.38 percent to 1.41 billion over the past decade, according to the ten-year census published on Tuesday. The reason for this is the falling birth rate: Statistically, a woman has 1.3 children. It is thus at the level of aging societies such as the large industrialized countries Japan and Italy.

This should sound the alarm bells in the political leadership, as the world's second largest economy is likely to face a hard-to-reverse decline in population - without private households there being able to amass as large fortunes as those in western industrialized nations.

Fewer births registered

"Population growth will continue to slow in the future," said Ning Jizhe, head of the National Statistics Bureau, when presenting the results. "China's population will peak in the future, but the exact timing is still uncertain." In 2020 only twelve million births were registered, after 14.65 million in 2019. The United Nations predicts that the number of people living in mainland China will peak in 2030 before declining.

This is increasing pressure on Beijing to take steps to encourage couples to have more children. It was only in 2016 that China abolished the decades-long one-child policy - in the hope of increasing the number of babies. Since then, a two-child policy has been officially adopted. At that time, the goal was also set to increase the population to around 1.42 billion by 2020 - which has now been missed.

Working population is shrinking

Falling birth rates and a rapidly aging society put pressure on the working-age population and could affect productivity. "Our projections, based on the numbers before the census, already indicated that the labor force would shrink by 0.5 percent annually through 2030, with a similar impact on gross domestic product," the analysts at Capital Economics wrote recently. "Slower growth would make it harder to catch up with the United States economically. And it could also have an impact on China's global standing."

As the pace of aging accelerates in China, the US population is showing positive changes, according to a working paper from the Central Bank of China. It cites United Nations predictions that the US population could grow by 15 percent from 2019 to 2050, while the Chinese population is likely to shrink by 2.2 percent. "Education and technological progress cannot compensate for the population decline," warned the central bank. (APA / Reuters, May 11, 2021)