China Set To Lose 60 Percent of Population by Century’s End

February 15, 2024

China's population of over 1.4 billion could drop by a precipitous 60 percent by the end of the century, according to a Chinese think tank.
By 2100, the world's second-largest population could number just 525 million, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) has predicted.
The report came on the heels of Chinese statistics bureau data showing that more people died than were born in China for the second consecutive year in 2023.
The SASS's new figure is 62 million people fewer than the academy's projection last year.
China's statistics bureau did not immediately return Newsweek's written request for comment.
"Our updated forecast for China brings forward our forecast of when the world's population will peak by one year to 2083, although there is much that is uncertain," Victoria University senior research fellow Peng Xiujian wrote last month in an analysis of Chinese population trends.
"The accelerated decline in China's population will weaken China's economy and, through it, the world's economy," she said.
Liu predicted the trend will dampen Chinese consumer spending while pushing up wages and government spending.
However, some analysts see a silver lining in a less crowded future.
"It amazes me how everyone seems to agree that the planet already has too many people whose demands for even the basics of existence like food, water and shelter are placing intolerable demands on the ecosystem—yet as soon as the population of a country begins to decline, its government reacts with near panic," the Associated Press quoted June Teufel Dreyer, Chinese politics specialist at the University of Miami, as saying.
For the near- to mid-term at least, the problem is not China's national headcount itself but demographics.
People walk in a public park in Beijing on April 15, 2023. A Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences research team has predicted China's population will fall to 525 million by 2100. People walk in a public park in Beijing on April 15, 2023. A Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences research team has predicted China's population will fall to 525 million by 2100. Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images
Like other nations in East Asia, China faces a rapidly greying workforce. This can lead to a shortage of skilled workers, decreased labor supply, and increased pressure on a country's medical and social welfare systems.
Meanwhile, China's fertility rate, like those of its neighbors, the U.S. and much of Europe, remains far below the 2.1 births per woman considered the replacement rate.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping last year called citizens to "actively foster a new culture of marriage and childbearing and strengthen guidance on young people's view on marriage."
To this end, both the central and local governments have in recent years introduced measures to entice couples to have larger families. These have ranged from cash subsidies to the scrapping of China's decades-old "one-child policy" to permit two—and later three—children per household.
However, these have so far had a limited overall impact in the face of changing preferences among young urbanites, China's slowing economy, and the higher cost of living in first-tier cities.
In its 2022 annual World Population Prospects report, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs predicted the world would have between 8.9 and 12.4 billion inhabitants in 2100, depending on a number of trends.

This data comes from MediaIntel.Asia's Media Intelligence and Media Monitoring Platform.

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