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China Births Slump to Record Low, Prompting Economic Warnings

There were only 9.56 million births in China last year, according to the National Health Commission, the lowest figure since records began in 1949

China's population is tipped to shrink this year for the first time in 60 years.
Children attend a patriotic event in Heihe, Heilongjiang province, near the Russian border. The population in China is shrinking at an alarming rate. File photo: AFP.


The number of births in China dived 10% last year to hit their lowest level on record, prompting gloomy warnings that the country will get old before it gets rich.

The fall comes despite a slew of government efforts to support parents and amid increasing alarm that the country may become demographically imbalanced.

China saw just 9.56 million births in 2022, according to a report published by the National Health Commission. It was the lowest figure since records began in 1949.


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The high costs of childcare and education, growing unemployment and job insecurity as well as gender discrimination have all helped to deter many young couples from having more than one child or even having children at all.

Last year, the country’s population also fell for the first time in six decades, dropping to 1.41 billion people.

That’s caused domestic demographers to lament that China will get old before it gets rich, slowing the economy as revenues drop and government debt increases due to soaring health and welfare costs.

Much of the demographic downturn is the result of China’s one-child policy imposed between 1980 and 2015, though the abandonment of that policy is having some effect.

Nearly 40% of Chinese newborns last year were the second child of a married couple, while 15% were from families with three or more children, health authorities said.

To spur the country’s flagging birth rate, Beijing has been rolling out a raft of measures, such as efforts to increase childcare as well as financial incentives, and President Xi Jinping in May presided over a meeting to study the topic.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

Shanghai Population Fall Blamed on Migrant Workers’ Exits

China’s First Population Decline in 60 Years Sparks Concern

China Sees Lowest Population Growth in Decades

China’s Ageing Population Prompts Concern, Sparks Opportunities



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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