“Urgent Measures Needed to Address China’s Declining Birth Rate Crisis”
China’s birth rate has reached a new low in 2022, with only 6.77 births per 1,000 people, marking the first decline in population in 60 years. This alarming trend has prompted a senior health official in Beijing, Yang Wenzhuang, to call for immediate action to reverse the decline. He believes that local leaders must take bold steps to tackle the detrimental effects of China’s long-standing anti-population growth policy, which restricted families to having only one child for 35 years.
The one-child policy has been widely criticized for causing a decrease in population, with families that broke the rules being fined and, in some cases, even losing their jobs. The limit was increased to two in 2016 and three in 2021, but the birth rate has continued to decline. Yang, who heads the country’s Population Monitoring and Family Development department, believes that now is the time to “firmly grasp the important window period of population development.”
In his call to action, Yang highlighted two main challenges facing the population growth: the cost of childcare and education and concerns about money and career goals. He believes that these are having a detrimental impact on the birth rate and is urging local governments to “actively explore and make bold innovations in reducing the cost of childbirth, childcare and education.” He feels that this is essential to promote the long-term balanced development of the population.
In response to the crisis, some provinces have already begun implementing new measures to try to boost the birth rate. For example, Sichuan has announced that couples will be allowed to have as many children as they want, reversing the one-child policy. Health authorities in the region have also allowed unmarried couples to raise a family and enjoy benefits that were previously reserved for married couples. Additionally, some provinces have started giving money to sperm donors.
The decline in population and birth rate, combined with the prospect of a fast-aging population, poses a significant long-term challenge to the world’s second-largest economy. The decline of 850,000 people to 1.41175 billion, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, is just the beginning of the crisis. China is already facing competition from a surging Indian economy, which threatens to overtake and push China down to third place.