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Home / World / China’s census may show an impending population decline

China’s census may show an impending population decline



Beijing (Reuters)-The decennial census is expected to show a further decline in the proportion of young people in its rapidly aging population. This is due to the high cost of living and the aversion to childbearing among urban couples that have brought China closer to population austerity.

File picture: Married couple Liu Zhichang (left) and Yu Tao walk in the square after finishing physical education classes in Beijing, China on March 13, 2021.Reuters/Wang Tingshu

Policy makers are under pressure to propose family planning incentives and prevent the birth rate from falling. Without effective measures, the world̵

7;s most populous country is at risk of entering an irreversible population decline.

China is expected to release the results of the latest census conducted at the end of 2020 in the next few days. It is believed that the proportion of the elderly in the population has risen, but more important is the data of young people.

In 2010, the proportion of the population under the age of 14 dropped from 22.89% in 2000 to 16.60%. This is the result of decades of one-child policy. The proportion of citizens aged 60 and over is 13.2%, which is higher than about 10%.

The continued development of these trends will harm China’s working-age population and put pressure on productivity. More and more working adults will also test their ability to pay and care for aging countries.

In 2016, China cancelled the one-child policy, hoping to increase the number of babies. It also set a goal to increase its population from 1.34 billion in 2010 to approximately 1.42 billion by 2020.

But the birth rate continues to decline.

Part of the reason is that despite parents’ pressure on parenting, urban couples still value independence and career more than raising families.

31-year-old Yu Tao, a Beijing product designer for a large technology company, said that he is unwilling to make sacrifices in time. If he and his wife have children, he will have to spend time.

As it is, he usually gets home from get off work at the earliest at midnight.

Yu said: “I like my balance now, how to achieve a balance between work and personal life, and I think once I have a child, I still can’t maintain this balance.”

Incredible slides?

Yu and his wife have a total annual income of more than 700,000 yuan (US$106,888), but he said that even if their income is much more than that of ordinary families, they still do not have enough financial means to have a child.

According to official data, the per capita disposable income of cities in 2020 was 43,834 yuan, compared with 19,109 yuan in 2010.

Yu said: “We are not yet prepared for our children financially and psychologically.”

Due to the large population, the cost of living in big cities continues to rise, which is also the main source of babies, which also separates couples from children, especially housing costs.

According to official data, among urban households, by 2020, per capita housing expenditure will increase from 1,332 yuan in 2010 to 6,958 yuan, an increase of more than five times.

Social and labor expert Liu Kaiming said: “If the government just allows people to have children without policy support, it will not have much impact.”

“In general, people’s reluctance to have children or fewer children is irreversible.”

The official media have been making increasingly dire predictions that the population may begin to decrease in the next few years-this prediction is lower than the UN forecast, which predicts that the population will peak in 2030 and then decline.

In 2016, China set a 2020 fertility rate target, which is about 1.8 children per woman, higher than the 1.5-1.6 in 2015.

If the population ratio drops below 1.5, many demographers say that China is unlikely to escape the so-called birth trap.

A recent comment made by the Minister of Civil Affairs stated that the fertility rate has exceeded the “warning line” and that the population has entered a critical period of transition, and it has been publicized on social media.

($1 = 6.5489 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Ryan Woo; additional reporting by Gao Liangping, Zhang Lusha and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Robert Birsel


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