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As the number of residents in China is poised to shrink for the first time in over half a century, Elon Musk is warning that the nation will see a “population collapse.”
China — which boasts a population of more than 1.4 billion — only added 480,000 people in 2021, according to new data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, as reported by the BBC. The Chinese fertility rate plummeted to 1.15 births per woman in 2021 — even though it saw 1.3 births per woman in 2020.
“This has happened despite China abandoning its one-child policy in 2016 and introducing a three-child policy, backed by tax and other incentives, last year,” the BBC added. The outlet went on to note that Chinese families may be growing accustomed to small families, coping with high living expenses, or hesitant to have children in the face of strict COVID-19 lockdowns.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk weighed in on social media.
“Most people still think China has a one-child policy,” he remarked. “China had its lowest birthdate ever last year, despite having a three-child policy! At current birth rates, China will lose ~40% of people every generation! Population collapse.”
Most people still think China has a one-child policy.
China had its lowest birthdate ever last year, despite having a three-child policy!
At current birth rates, China will lose ~40% of people every generation!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 6, 2022
Indeed, the billionaire has cautioned repeatedly that many mistakenly believe that the world population is growing too quickly.
“I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birthrate and the rapidly declining birthrate,” Musk explained at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit last year. “And yet, so many people, including smart people, think that there are too many people in the world and think that the population is growing out of control. It’s completely the opposite. Please look at the numbers — if people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble, mark my words.”
He has also rebutted the United Nations’ population projections as “utter nonsense” — instructing people to “Just multiply last year’s births by life expectancy. Given downward trend in birth rate, that is best case unless reversed.”
Responding to last month’s news that the population of Japan fell by a record 644,000, Musk said: “At risk of stating the obvious, unless something changes to cause the birth rate to exceed the death rate, Japan will eventually cease to exist. This would be a great loss for the world.”
Indeed, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced several reforms last summer to slash living expenses for families with multiple children.
For instance, the Chinese government unveiled new regulations for the nation’s $120 billion private tutoring industry. Chinese parents routinely seek tutoring services throughout their children’s primary and secondary education to prepare them for the National College Entrance Examination, which determines eligibility for undergraduate education.
Days later, the Chinese government increased certain mortgage rates in an attempt to make housing more affordable, seeking to discourage private investors from using residential real estate for speculative purposes.
Meanwhile, the United States birth rate is also on a downward trend. In 2021, the United States population increased at the slowest pace since the nation’s founding. In 2020, deaths exceeded births in half of all states. Some northeastern states — including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and West Virginia — saw deaths exceed births in both 2019 and 2020.