China’s population contracted for the second straight year—as deaths in 2023 rose and births hit a new low—as the world’s second largest economy faces growing risk of demographic crisis.
Government data released Wednesday showed that China’s overall population by the end of 2023 was 1.4097 billion, down about 2 million people from 1.4118 billion in 2022, which last year fell for the first time in decades by about 850,000 from 2021. The year-to-year decrease may seem relatively minute, but experts say it represents a significant trend for the country and a major threat to its plans for growth.
China’s birth rate last year stood at 6.39 per thousand, down from 6.77 per thousand in 2022, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, as high costs of childrearing and record-levels of youth unemployment appear to be leading to an increasing aversion to having kids.
Meanwhile, China experienced 11.1 million deaths in 2023, up from 10.4 million in 2022. Observers anticipated such an uptick as China abruptly lifted its strict COVID-19 controls in late 2022.
China’s official population counts exclude foreigners as well as residents of its special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau.
Notably, the demographic data released on Wednesday also showed that the proportion of China’s population aged 60 and above has surpassed 20%. Earlier this week, in an effort to address the challenges of an aging population, China unveiled a plan to boost its “silver economy.”
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