China’s population grew at its slowest pace in decades, according to government data released on Tuesday, highlighting fears of a looming crisis over an ageing society.
It has reached 1.41 billion, census results showed on Tuesday. Fears of a looming demographic crisis amid an ageing population and slowing birthrates, as well as a rapid decline in the number of working-age people in the world’s second largest economy, are reflected in the country’s 5.4 percent rise since the last census in 2010. The growth rate was the slowest since the 1960s, according to official data.
Fears of China’s fast-aging population and declining workforce prompted Beijing to reform family planning rules in 2016, allowing families to have two children. However, the country has yet to generate the anticipated baby boom to help offset the country’s ageing population.
Ning Jizhe, an official from the National Bureau of Statistics said that the National Bureau of Statistics’ reform of China’s fertility policy has yielded promising results. But he added that the “ageing of the population imposed continued pressure on the long-term balanced development of the population in the coming period.”
The population of people aged 15 to 59 years old fell by nearly 7%, while the population of people aged 60 and up increased by more than 5%. Despite the easing of the decades-old “one-child strategy,” China’s birthrate has been steadily declining since 2017.
According to the data, the average family size is now 2.62 people, down from 3.10 people ten years ago.
This is due in part to recent declines in marriage rates, couples unable to afford the high cost of raising children in major cities, and women naturally delaying or avoiding childbirth as a result of their rising empowerment.
Every ten years, China conducts a census to assess population growth, migration patterns, and other trends. The sensitive data plays a major role in government policy planning.