Decline in the Chinese population in 2022, a first for 60 years

China had not known such statistical data since the beginning of the 1960s. The population of the most populous country in the world fell in 2022, an official body said on Tuesday.

In total, 9.56 million births were registered last year, and did not compensate for the 10.41 million deaths, announced the National Bureau of Statistics (BNS) in a report. The Chinese population therefore fell by around 850,000 people in 2022.

Lowest fertility rate

This fall is explained in particular by the cost of living which has risen sharply, by the higher level of education of women which delays pregnancies or even by the lack of desire of the younger generations to have a child. The fertility rate has thus collapsed to 1.15 children per woman in 2021, far behind the generation renewal threshold (2.1).

Coupled with ageing, the decline in the population, particularly in the number of working people, should have profound repercussions on the Chinese economy for several decades. The cost of labor is expected to rise, undermining the competitiveness of the Chinese workforce, and the pressure on assets to provide care for the elderly will increase significantly.

Incentives to boost the birth rate

Many local authorities have therefore already launched measures to encourage couples to procreate. The metropolis of Shenzhen has been offering birth bonuses of up to 10,000 yuan (1,370 euros) and allowances paid until the child is three years old. Shandong province gives 158 days of maternity leave (60 more than the national standard), from the first child.

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China could have only 587 million inhabitants in 2100, according to the most pessimistic projections of a study by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, updated last year.

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