China’s population is shrinking for the first time in decades

People venture onto the Bund Promenade along the Huangpu River in Shanghai, China, January 16, 2023.

Hector Retamal | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — China’s population has declined in 2022, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday.

According to Yi Fuxian, a critic of China’s one-child policy and author of Big Country With an Empty Nest, the decline was the first since the early 1960s.

The population of mainland China, excluding foreigners, fell by 850,000 people to 1.41 billion in 2022, the Bureau of Statistics said. The country reported 9.56 million births and 10.41 million deaths in 2022.

The proportion of the population aged 16 to 59 fell from 62.5% in the previous year to 62%.

“The overall population decline reflects the impact of the pandemic and related economic downturn on fertility demand,” Yue Su, chief economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said in a note. She said China may see a short-term return to population growth after the impact of the pandemic wears off.

“Despite the negative impact of shrinking population size on China’s long-term growth potential, we encourage companies to examine the opportunities embedded in the population structure,” she said. “Smaller family sizes will drive the transformation and upgrading of consumption. The ‘silver economy’ associated with aging trends will be another growth point.”

China said 65.22% of its population lived in urban areas last year, up from 64.72% a year earlier. According to the World Bank, approximately 83% of the US population lived in urban areas in 2021.

In 2021, China’s population grew at the slowest rate on record. The population of mainland China, excluding foreigners, increased by 480,000 to 1.41 billion people at the end of 2021, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The number of newborns in the mainland fell 13% to 10.62 million babies in 2021, the data showed. In 2020, new births fell by 22%, according to the data.

Separately, Chinese health authorities announced nearly 60,000 Covid-related deaths in Chinese hospitals over the weekend between December 8, 2022 and January 12, 2023. The majority were elderly, and the median age at death was 80.3 years, authorities said.

This is breaking news. Please check again for updates. China’s population is shrinking for the first time in decades

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