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China’s population set to shrink by 2025: officials

#Chinas #population #set #shrink #officials

China’s population will start shrinking by 2025, officials say, as family sizes shrink and citizens age.

The world’s most populous country is grappling with a looming demographic crisis as it faces a rapidly aging workforce, a slowing economy and the weakest population growth in decades.

And although officials relaxed the country’s strict “one-child policy” in 2016 and allowed couples to have three children last year, the birth rate has fallen to a record low.

“The rate of growth of the total population has slowed down significantly and in the period of the ’14. Five-Year Plan’ are entering a period of negative growth,” the National Health Commission said on Monday, referring to the period between 2021 and 2025.

In January, authorities said projections were for the population to reach zero growth “or even negative growth” over that five-year span.

“Currently, our country’s policy system for midwifery is not perfect, and there is a large gap between population trends and people’s expectations,” the NHC said in its latest report.

The total fertility rate has fallen below 1.3 in recent years, she added, while the country is expected to enter a period of severe aging around 2035, when more than 30 percent of the population will be older than 60.

Families are also getting smaller, which “weakens” the functions of pensions and childcare, the Health Commission said, calling for improved child-rearing support and policies on housing, education and taxation to ease the burden on families.

Authorities in some parts of China are already introducing family-friendly policies to counter the falling birth rate.

The eastern city of Hangzhou announced on Monday that families with three children can borrow 20 percent more than the maximum limit when applying for housing benefit fund loans for the first time.

Other cities such as Nanchang and Changsha have also introduced supportive measures, according to state media.

The reasons given for the lower number of babies are higher living costs and a cultural change as people have become accustomed to smaller families.

The “one child policy” was introduced by top leader Deng Xiaoping in 1980 to curb population growth and promote economic development, with some exceptions for rural families and ethnic minorities.

According to UN projections, the world population is expected to reach eight billion in November 2022, with India on track to overtake China as the world’s most populous country in 2023.

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