China’s birth rate for 2021 dropped to historic lows, declining for the fifth year in a row, creating the potential for an economic and cultural crisis in the country.
Reuters reported that the “2021 rate of 7.52 births per 1,000 people was the lowest since 1949, when the National Statistics Bureau began collating the data, adding further pressure on officials to encourage more births.”
“The natural growth rate of China’s population, which excludes migration, was only 0.034% for 2021, the lowest since 1960, according to the data,” the outlet added.
The New York Times noted the economic implications of such numbers could be devastating as the amount of people who are of working age in correlation to the people who are past working age has continued to go down.
The country also experienced slow economic growth in the fourth quarter of last year — at only 4%, which is “the slowest pace since the beginning of the Covid-19 recovery in the second quarter of 2020,” per The Wall Street Journal.
The Times reported that the amount of births went down to 10.6 million in 2021, contrasted with 12 million the year prior, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. “That was fewer even than the number in 1961, when the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong’s economic policy, resulted in widespread famine and death,” the outlet added.
The amount of people who died last year was 10.1 million, meaning that the birth rate slightly outperformed the numbers of death, but just barely.
“The year 2021 will go down in Chinese history as the year that China last saw population growth in its long history,” said Wang Feng, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, per the Times.
National Bureau of Statistics Commissioner Ning Jizhe was asked about the numbers on Monday, and said that part of the reason the rate has slowed down is due to the decrease in the amount of women who are of child-bearing age.
The amount of women aged 21 to 35 went down by 3 million in 2021, Ning reportedly told the press. He noted that the country’s yearly amount of births is anticipated to stay above 10 million per year, and the total population will probably stay above 1.4 billion individuals for the close future.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now facing the ramifications of its past policies, such as the one-child policy that only allowed couples to have one child. The government’s efforts to encourage couples to have more children appears to not be enough.
In 2016, China began allowing two children. Last year, the Communist Party in China announced it would expand that number to three children, as The Daily Wire reported at the time.
The Associated Press reported at the time that the ruling party stated couples are now allowed to have three children instead of only two in order to hopefully slow down the accelerated aging of the people in the country, which is reportedly “adding to strains on the economy and society,” per the outlet.
The party has enforced limitations on how many children a couple can have in China since 1980, AP reported, but has begun to worry that the amount of people who are able to work is declining too rapidly while the amount of people who are over the age of 65 is going up.