China’s population has fallen for the first time in 60 years, with the national birth rate hitting a record low – 6.77 births per 1,000 people.
The population in 2022 – 1.4118 billion – fell by 850,000 from 2021.
China’s birth rate has been declining for years, prompting a slew of policies to try to slow the trend.
But seven years after scrapping the one-child policy, it has entered what one official described as an “era of negative population growth”.
The birth rate in 2022 was also down from 7.52 in 2021, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, which released the figures on Tuesday.
In comparison, in 2021, the United States recorded 11.06 births per 1,000 people, and the United Kingdom, 10.08 births. The birth rate for the same year in India, which is poised to overtake China as the world’s most populous country, was 16.42.
Deaths also outnumbered births for the first time last year in China. The country logged its highest death rate since 1976 – 7.37 deaths per 1,000 people, up from 7.18 the previous year.
He was thought to be the oldest man in Tokyo – but when officials went to congratulate Sogen Kato on his 111th birthday, they uncovered mummified skeletal remains lying in his bed.
Mr Kato may have been dead for 30 years according to Japanese authorities.
They grew suspicious when they went to honour Mr Kato at his address in Adachi ward, but his granddaughter told them he “doesn’t want to see anybody”.
Police are now investigating the family on possible fraud charges.
But the family had received 9.5 million yen ($109,000: £70,000) in widower’s pension payments via Mr Kato’s bank account since his wife died six years ago, and some of the money had recently been withdrawn.
At present, the state pension increases each year in line with the rising cost of living seen in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation, increasing average wages, or 2.5%, whichever is highest.
As people come off furlough and return to full pay, this is recorded as a large rise in average earnings. Job losses have also affected those in low-paid work too.
This leads to a unique situation, and one which economists describe as an anomaly.
Predictions by the Bank of England suggest that average earnings could go up by 8%, hence the equivalent rise in the state pension.
The UK has four vaccines approved for use: Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen; three of which require two doses for maximum protection.
The campaign to reach as many people as quickly as possible was boosted by a shift in policy in early January – to prioritise the first dose of a vaccine, with a second dose up to 12 weeks later, a bigger gap than originally planned.
Progress made in the UK so far means the country continues to be among those with the highest vaccination rates globally.