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China’s population is expected to enter a new era of negative growth, according to a green paper released Thursday.
China’s population is expected to hit a peak of 1.44 billion in 2029, and start to experience negative growth from 2030 onwards, with the number of people predicted to drop to 1.25 billion in 2065 -- the level in 1996, the green paper on China’s population and labor said, quoting forecast figures by the United Nations.
However, if the country’s total fertility rate – the number of children born to women during their lifetime -- continues to be 1.6, China will start experiencing negative population growth in 2027. The total population will shrink to the 1990 level of 1.17 billion in 2065, the green paper noted. The green paper was jointly released by the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at the China Academy of Social Sciences and the Social Sciences Academy Press.
The number of new births for 2018 is estimated at between 15 and 16 million, falling from 17.23 million in 2017, said Huang Kuangshi, an associate researcher with the National Health Commission’s China Population and Development Research Center.
Though the official figures of births in the country in 2018 have yet to be announced, cities, including Qingdao and Liaocheng in Shandong province and Ningbo in Zhejiang province, have released their estimated figures of local births. These cities predicted a dramatic decrease in local newborns, especially second children, in 2018, which might make national population growth turn negative earlier. China relaxed the family planning policy in 2016, allowing all couples to have two children. China’s negative population growth may commence even before 2027, Lu Jiehua, a professor at Peking University, told the 21st Century Business Herald.
A continuous low fertility rate will result in population decline and population aging, posing challenges to society and the economy, the green paper said. Research and coping strategies for the upcoming negative population growth are urgently needed, it said.
The paper proposed grasping demographic trends and actively responding to the new challenges in demographic development from various aspects, such as on the basis of material items, human capital and technology. It’s necessary to fully tap the potential of demographic development and manage demographic risks without delay, said the paper.