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China’s population grew to 1.412 billion until November, 2020, latest national census data said on Tuesday, revealing the worst slump in population growth in decades despite Beijing withdrawing the one-child policy in 2016.
In the decade leading to 2020, China’s population grew by only about 72 million, the new data revealed.
The latest numbers will add pressure on Beijing to incentivise child-bearing as the most populous country deals with a rapidly ageing population and the added economic burden.
“China’s population on the mainland reached 1.41178 billion, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Tuesday, citing data from the seventh national population census.
The figure does not include Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan residents and foreigners who live in the mainland’s 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, according to the NBS.
The population of mainland China increased 5.38% to 1.41 billion, according to the 2020 results of the country’s once-in-a-decade official census.That compared with an increase of 5.84% to 1.34 billion in the 2010 census.
Chinese demographers told state media that although China reported population growth in 2020, the general declining trend was inevitable, and China’s population is likely to start to decline as early as 2022.
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The result of the number of people in different age groups revealed that the number of China’s labour force has shrunk more rapidly in the past decade while the ageing population continued to increase.
The proportion of people aged between 15 and 59 was 894 million, down by 6.79 percentage points from that in the 2010 census.
“The number of people aged 60 and above grew to 264 million, up from 177.6 million in the 2010 census, and the number of people aged 65 and above grew to 190 million, up from 118.8 million in the 2010 census,” the state-run tabloid, Global Times reported, quoting the new data.
“That (the census data) means official number of the births every year for the past 10 years were mostly accurate, it also means the downward trend is more significant than what we expected in the recent years,” Huang Wenzheng a demography expert at the Beijing-based think-tank Centre for China and Globalisation said.
The two-child policy, which was implemented from 2016, has failed to make an impact on the low birth rates.
China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China said last month that the country should radically change its childbirth policy, allowing more children.
“First, we should liberalise and vigorously encourage childbirth. The birth rate depends on the proportion of women of childbearing age and the fertility rate, which is affected by the historical population situation and is difficult to change,” the PBC report said.
“On the one hand, we should fully liberalise fertility (three and above)…On the other hand, fertility is strongly encouraged. It is necessary to create a favourable environment for childbearing, effectively solve the difficulties women encounter in pregnancy, childbirth, entering nursery and entering school, so that women dare to give birth, can give birth and want to,” the report added.