DESPITE loosening its population control measures, China’s birthrate has dropped to its lowest since the founding of the People’s republic of China 70 years ago, recent statistics showed.
The government has actively been encouraging couples to have more babies, but now the country’s birthrate stood at 10.94 per thousand, the lowest since 1949 and from 12.43 per thousand in 2017, data from the statistics bureau showed.
In 2018, the number of babies born fell by two million to 15.23 million, Reuters reported.
When the number of deaths is deducted, the rate of natural increase in population also showed slowest progress since the aftermath of a disastrous famine in the early 1960s.
“Decades of social and economic transformations have prepared an entirely new generation in China, for whom marriage and childbearing no longer have the importance they once did for their parents’ generation,” Wang Feng, a sociology professor at the University of California, Irving, said, as quoted by Deutsche Welle.
“Many of us grew up as only children and we’re a little selfish about putting our own satisfaction above having kids,” Beijing officer worker Mina Cai said.
He Yahu, an Independent Chinese demographer, said the low birth rate has led to a seriously ageing population.
“On one hand, families are getting smaller, reducing support for the elderly; on the other hand, the elderly population to the workforce is growing, which increases the burden on the working population.”
The government’s move to allow urban couples to have two children in 2016 was replaced by a one-child policy in place since 1979 as the lawmakers became warier of declining birth rates and a rapidly growing ageing population.
The bureau did not provide any reasons for the declining birthrate but China’s economic growth fell to its lowest in nearly thirty years.
Many Chinese couples are reluctant to have children due to high living costs, including healthcare, education and property prices.
Earlier this month, a state-linked think thank pointed out that the population in the world’s most populous country could shrink as early as 2027.