China’s population has decreased for the first time in 60 years, with the national birth rate hitting a record low of 6.77 births per 1,000 people.
The population which was 1.4118 billion in 2022 fell by 850,000 from 2021, according to BBC.
China’s birth rate has been dropping for years, stimulating a deviation of policies to try to slow the trend.
But seven years after scrapping the one-child policy, it has entered what one official described as an “era of negative population growth.”
According to reports on Tuesday, the birth rate in 2022 was also down from 7.52 in 2021, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published today.
In comparison, in 2021, the United States recorded 11.06 births per 1,000 people, and in the United Kingdom, 10.08 births.
Also, the birth rate for the same year in India, which is postulated to overtake China as the world’s most populous country was 16.42.
Deaths also outnumbered births for the first time last year in China as the world’s most populous country logged its highest death rate since 1976 – 7.37 deaths per 1,000 people, up from 7.18 the previous year.
Results from a once-a-decade census announced in 2021 showed China’s population growing at its slowest pace in decades.
Populations are also shrinking and ageing in other East Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea.
Yue Su, principal economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) was among the experts who expect China’s population would shrink further through 2023.
“This trend is going to continue and perhaps worsen after Covid,” Su said.
“The high youth unemployment rate and weaknesses in income expectations could delay marriage and childbirth plans further, dragging down the number of newborns,” she added.
And the death rate in 2023 is likely to be higher than it was pre-pandemic due to Covid infections, she said. China has seen a surge of cases since it abandoned its zero-Covid policy last month.