It is a worrying indicator in China. The birth rate collapsed last year, falling to its lowest level in more than 40 years, despite efforts by the Communist regime to convince families to grow. Despite allowing the Chinese in 2016 to have two children, then three this year, Beijing is facing the risk of an aging population and a decline in the number of working people.

Despite the Covid-19 epidemic which confined millions of couples to their homes in early 2020, the birth rate fell sharply last year, falling to 8.52 births per 1,000 inhabitants, according to the Statistical Yearbook 2021. This is the lowest figure since the publication of the yearbook began in 1978. In 2019, the birth rate was still 10.41 births per 1,000 inhabitants. Last year’s figure would even be the lowest since the founding of the communist regime in 1949, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Collapse of marriages

Power incentives seem to have little effect on households, faced with rising costs of living, especially education and housing. The number of marriages also plummeted last year, falling to the lowest in 17 years, with just 8.14 million couples donning the ring. The number of divorces also fell for the first time in more than 30 years, after the imposition in early 2020 of a cooling-off period of one month on couples wanting to separate.

No less than 4.34 million couples did not divorce any less last year, more than half of the number of marriages. Chinese statistics sometimes raise doubts. The Bloomberg agency calculated that the number of births was reduced by 11.6 million between 2000 and 2010 in view of the differences between the annual figures of the National Bureau of Statistics and the results of the decennial censuses.

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