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China's total fertility rate forecast at 1.09, the lowest on record

China's total fertility rate forecast at 1.09, the lowest on record

Posted August. 17, 2023 08:03,   

Updated August. 17, 2023 08:03


China's total fertility rate - the average number of newborns a woman is expected to have in her lifetime - is set to hit a record low, according to a new outlook report. Analysts say the country's rapid growth, fueled by cheap labor and a large domestic market based on its huge population, will no longer be sustainable.

At the recent annual meeting of the Chinese Population Association, experts from the China Population Development Research Center presented a research paper suggesting that China's total fertility rate may have fallen to 1.09 children last year, according to Chinese media including the Jiemian newspaper on Tuesday. This is the lowest rate among countries with a population of 100 million or more in the world.

As of the end of last year, China's population was 1,411,750,000, about 850,000 fewer than a year earlier. It was the first time China's population had fallen since 1961, when tens of millions of people died in the Great Famine caused by Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward movement. The top spot for the world's most populous country also went to India, according to an announcement by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs late last month.

In China, the materialization of population decline has led to a series of childbirth incentives introduced by local governments, including childcare subsidies. However, as the financial burden of childcare increases and young people fear career interruptions, they are shying away from marriage, let alone childbirth.

"China's demographic transition, represented by an aging population and a decline in the number of working-age people, is the most important factor that will affect the Chinese economy in the medium to long term," the Bank of Korea said at an analysis published in its International Economic Review. "It will be a key factor in triggering changes in industrial structure and the global economy."

Ki-Yong Kim kky@donga.com