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China Daily Website  

Chinese population may face sharp drop from 2017

Updated: 2015-09-29 10:10

Shanghai-based China Business News on Monday stated that the country's birth rate was on the decrease and that population figures may fall starting from 2017.

A village kindergarten in Xuzhou of Jiangxu province has witnessed an annual drop in enrollment numbers, from more than 30 to less than 10 in each junior class, the head told the newspaper, adding that it is the same at other kindergartens in their town.

The declining population of kindergarteners is an epitome of the underage group nationwide.


In a country where the population of children under 15 accounts for 15 to 18 percent of the total number, the birth rate is severely low, according to demographic criteria,

In China, the population of the same group accounted for 16.6 percent in 2010, having been 40.7 percent in 1964, 33.6 percent in 1982, 27.7 percent in 1990 and 22.9 percent in 2000.

In the 1990s, more than 20 million children were born annually. The figure has dropped to around 16 million since, while the lowest number was 15.8 million in 2006, according to China Population Association.

A research report has stated that primary-school enrollment had declined from 25 million in 1997 to 16.58 million in 2014. Likewise, junior high school enrollment numbers decreased from 22.63 million to 14.48 million during the same period.


The country's population will peak in 2026, the UN's "World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision" said, citing an estimated medium birth rate. In case of a low birth rate, the year 2017 will see the country's population's peak resting at 1.36 billion people.

All experts interviewed by the newspaper said the peak year would fall between 2017 and 2016.

They also warn that the impact of such a decline will harm China in various ways. An aging population leaves the country with weak domestic demand, fewer workers and more dependents, resulting in slower economic growth and more deflationary forces.

Who will give birth to more babies?

It seems that the above problem could be solved easily if people are encouraged to give birth to more babies. But it is not that simple.

Experts have been calling for a loosening of government family planning restrictions to slow the aging of society, but the country still has to allow all couples to have a second child.

Furthermore, they are concerned that young couples have already showed less interest in having more children, citing economic and other reasons.

It's not simply about implementing a second-child policy, experts explained, saying relevant policies, regulations, formalities and social culture need to be in place to encourage people, which takes time.

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