China reportedly suffered a massive fall in birthrate in 2018 despite the government’s effort to increase the number of children being born in the country through its population control scheme.
It is expected that the final figure for births in 2018 will drastically drop below 15 million, according to state-run tabloid outlet Global Times via South China Morning Post.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics is expected to release the complete figures later this month; however, local authorities’ gathered data already paints a picture of lowered birthrate that fell far short of the family planning authority’s estimate of up to 20 million births.
In the gathered data, local government in Shandong, one of China’s most populous provinces, only recorded 64,753 births for the first 11 months of 2018 while Qingdao, another city in the province, only had 81,112 births last year from January to November. Both cities suffered a fall of 26 and 21% respectively last year, said in the report.
If the 20% fall was replicated nationwide, the country could see a fall in birthrate to as low as 14 million, said Hua Changchun, an economist with Guotai Junan Securities, in a research note. He added in the note that this fall in birthrate could potentially have far-reaching impact on the country’s economic and social development, which includes gradual reduction in demand for property in the future.
“A sharp drop in new births is probably the beginning of a long new era, during which population will see contraction,” Hua said in the note.
Yi Fuxian, a long-standing critic of the country’s family planning policy and a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, co-authored a paper along with Su Jian, an economist at Peking University, in which the two discussed how China may have started to see a long-standing population decline.
“The year 2018 will be remembered as a historical turning point for Chinese population,” Yi and Su said in the paper sent to SCMP. “The Chinese population has started to fall, the ageing problems has accelerated, and economic vitality has weakened.”
“A great nation, which once upon a time accounted for nearly a third of the world’s total population, is gradually degenerating into a small group of the old and the weak thanks to wrong demographic policies.”
“China must immediately lift birth controls and encourage people to have babies,” chief economist at property developer Evergrande Group, Ren Zeping, said in a note. In it, he added that China is walking into a “demographic crisis” after its second-child policy failed to help increase the birthrate in the country.
China saw a great progress in its birthrate from 16.55 million in 2015 to 17.86 million in 2016 after pushing forward the two-child policy. But the increase was short-lived; by 2017, the figure took a slight dip to 17.23 million.