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.
According to a new UN report, China’s population growth has collapsed by 94 per cent, from eight million a decade ago to just 480,000 last year. What’s particularly worrying for Chinese leaders is that this means a rapid reduction in the working population. The previous set of projected figures suggested that by the year 2100, China’s 15- to 64-year-old population would be 579 million. This has now been revised down to 378 million, a 35 per cent fall. If this prediction plays out, the implications for China – and the rest of the world – could be brutal.
Today, every 100 working-age Chinese need to support 20 retirees. If trends continue, by the turn of the next century, every 100 workers will have to support 120 retirees. This means China will have the largest drop in working-age population among any of the G20 economies by 2030, with more than 23 million fewer Chinese. In percentage terms, Japan and South Korea will shrink even faster – but they became rich before birth rates began plummeting.
Among the 17 states where population declined over the year, losses were greatest in New York (-1.58%), Illinois (-0.89%), Hawaii (-0.71%) and California (-0.66%). Losses in these states were driven by people moving away.
Four states experienced population declines because more people moved out than in, and more people died than were born: Massachusetts, Mississippi, Michigan, and New Mexico. The data does not separate deaths related to COVID-19 from others.
Aside from states with declines, population grew slower over the year than over the 2010-20 period in 19 states. Among them, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon experienced the biggest slowdown in growth compared with their decade-long pace.
After Idaho and Utah, population grew the fastest in Montana (1.66%), Arizona (1.37%), South Carolina (1.17%), Delaware (1.16%), and Texas (1.06%). Gains in each came mostly from new residents moving into the state.
Fourteen states grew more quickly than their 10-year paces. Idaho, Montana, Maine and New Hampshire sped up the most.
Nationwide, gains from international migration exceeded gains from the natural increase in 2021. It was the first time that newcomers from other countries contributed more to population growth than gains from births in a given year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Author(s): Joanna Biernacka-Lievestro & Alexandre Fall
Elon Musk thinks human civilization will fall apart unless people have more babies — and he’s expressed particular worries about Italy, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. But he has some concerns about the United States, too.
For weeks, Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the acquirer of Twitter in a $44 billion deal and a father himself, has been tweeting about birthrate declines in America and abroad.
“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,” Musk tweeted on May 7, according to TheStreet. “This would be a great loss to the world.”
The number of births in advanced economies has largely rebounded to levels before the coronavirus pandemic, a Financial Times analysis shows, a recovery that experts say was partly because of stimulus policies deployed to mitigate the economic impact of the crisis.
Births began to fall sharply in late 2020 after Covid-19 took hold and people were confined to their homes in lockdown, worsening an already perilous demographic trend of population decline in wealthy nations.
The trend mirrored drops during the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Depression and the global financial crisis in 2008. But an analysis of national data shows a rapid rebound in most developed countries.
The global fertility rate peaked at five in 1960 and has since been in freefall. As a result, demographers believe that, after centuries of booming population growth, the world is on the brink of a natural population decline.
According to a Lancet paper published in 2020, the world’s population will peak at 9.7bn in about 2064, dropping to 8.7bn around the end of the century. About 23 nations can expect their populations to halve by 2100: Japan’s population will fall from a peak of 128mn in 2017 to less than 53mn; Italy’s from 61mn to 28mn.
Low fertility rates set off a chain of economic events. Fewer young people leads to a smaller workforce, hitting tax receipts, pensions and healthcare contributions.
Almost half (47%) of U.S. counties or equivalents gained population between 2010 and 2020 (Figure 1).
Five counties (metro areas in parentheses) gained at least 300,000 people during that period: Harris County, Texas (Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land); Maricopa County, Arizona (Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler); King County, Washington (Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue); Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise); and Tarrant County, Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington).
California’s Los Angeles County remained the largest county in 2020, crossing the 10.0 million-person mark between 2010 and 2020.
Author(s): PAUL MACKUN, JOSHUA COMENETZ, AND LINDSAY SPELL
Like an avalanche, the demographic forces — pushing toward more deaths than births — seem to be expanding and accelerating. Though some countries continue to see their populations grow, especially in Africa, fertility rates are falling nearly everywhere else. Demographers now predict that by the latter half of the century or possibly earlier, the global population will enter a sustained decline for the first time.
A planet with fewer people could ease pressure on resources, slow the destructive impact of climate change and reduce household burdens for women. But the census announcements this month from China and the United States, which showed the slowest rates of population growth in decades for both countries, also point to hard-to-fathom adjustments.
The strain of longer lives and low fertility, leading to fewer workers and more retirees, threatens to upend how societies are organized — around the notion that a surplus of young people will drive economies and help pay for the old. It may also require a reconceptualization of family and nation. Imagine entire regions where everyone is 70 or older. Imagine governments laying out huge bonuses for immigrants and mothers with lots of children. Imagine a gig economy filled with grandparents and Super Bowl ads promoting procreation.
“A paradigm shift is necessary,” said Frank Swiaczny, a German demographer who was the chief of population trends and analysis for the United Nations until last year. “Countries need to learn to live with and adapt to decline.”
Author(s): Damien Cave, Emma Bubola, Choe Sang-Hun.
With a perfect storm of aging residents, low birth rates, COVID-19 deaths and immigration cutbacks, 16 states saw population decreases last year as the United States experienced the slowest national population growth since the Great Depression.
The nation grew only about 7% between 2010 and 2020, similar to the previous historic low between 1930 and 1940, according to new Census Bureau estimates, which do not reflect the 2020 census counts. The agency will release the final 2020 census tally in March.