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China’s population has grown at the slowest pace in decades

China's population has grown at the slowest pace in decades

January 19, 2022: -China’s population grew by the slowest increase on record last year, even as a decline in new births slowed.

The total population in the mainland, excluding foreigners, reached 1.41 billion people as of the end of the previous year, an increase of 480,000 people compared to 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday.

“The most shocking part of the data released today is that the natural growth of population has dropped to 0.034%, the first surge below 0.1% since data available,” Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, said in a note on Monday.

The low growth rate shows the population is aging faster than expected and suggests China’s total population may have reached its peak in 2021, he said. It “indicates China’s potential growth is slowing faster than expected,” Zhang said.

The world’s second-largest economy is aging rapidly. Beijing announced in the previous year that each couple could have three children, further loosening family planning policies that limited households to one child for decades.

According to official data, new births in mainland China fell by 13% in 2021 to 10.62 million babies. The data showed that that’s down from a 22% decline in 2020 compared to the prior year.

The natural growth rate refers to the difference between the number of live births and deaths per year, divided by the average population that year and multiplied by 1,000.

The rate increased in 2016 compared to the previous year, after a policy change allowed families to have two children, but the slowdown in natural growth rate has accelerated in the years since.

China’s natural population growth rate of 0.034% for 2021 was the slimmest since 1960, when the population contracted, according to data accessed through the Wind Information database. Since 1952, the data showed that the natural growth rate has been above 0.1% for every other year.

The natural growth rate was 0.145% in 2020 and 0.332% in 2019.

On Monday, then asked regarding the population figures, National Bureau of Statistics Commissioner Ning Jizhe attributed part of the slowing growth to a decline in the women of childbearing age.

The number of women amid the ages of 21 to 35 declined by 3 million in 2021, Ning told reporters. He added that China’s annual number of births is expected to remain over 10 million a year, and the total population will likely remain more than 1.4 billion people for the near future.

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China’s population has grown at the slowest pace in decades