China’s population is likely to contract ahead of 2025 as the number of new births in 2021 plummeted to the lowest in decades across provinces, Global Times reported, citing a senior health official.
The number of births in central Hunan province fell below 500,000 for the first time in nearly 60 years, the state news outlet said, indicating a significant slowdown in population growth.
Only China’s southern Guangdong province has had more than 1 million new births, it said, citing birth data released late on Sunday.
China is battling to reverse a rapid shrinkage in natural population growth as many young people opt not to have children due to factors including the high cost and work pressure.
China’s population is expected to start to shrink in 2021-25, the Global Times said, citing Yang Wenzhuang, head of population and family affairs at the National Health Commission.
A change in China’s laws last year to allow women to have three children has not helped, with many women saying the change comes too late and they have insufficient job security and gender equality.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard