China’s population to peak at 1.45b: officials

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-9 0:13:01

No timetable yet for full relaxation of family planning policy: NHFPC

China will see a peak population of around 1.45 billion after the country's relaxation of its family planning policy, though the timetable for the full relaxation of the policy remains unclear, health authorities said Tuesday.

China's population stood at 1.38 billion in 2015 and will peak at 1.45 million before it drops to 1.38 billion by 2050, Li Bin, head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) said at a news conference for the National People's Congress on Tuesday.

Wang Pei'an, deputy head of the NHFPC, said in January that the  population is expected to peak in 2030.

However, the peak year could come as early as 2023, as the present population is shrinking severely due to a low fertility rate, Mu Guangzong, a professor at Peking University's Institute of Population Research, told the Global Times.

Chinese experts previously contacted by the Global Times agreed that the country's fertility rate has lingered at around 1.5 children per woman of childbearing age over the past few years, far lower than the rate of 2.2 believed to be healthy for China.

Li also said there is no timetable for the full relaxation of the family planning policy, although it will continue to be improved and adjusted. But Wang noted that China must stick to its family planning policy for another 20 to 30 years

Though uncertainties exist, a timetable should be in place, as it directly impacts all families, said Mu, adding that the NHFPC should plan public discussions and modifications of the policy accordingly.

However, Song Jian, a demographics professor at the Renmin University of China, called for prudence toward the timetable for policy removal, saying that the country still needs at least two years to see the effects of the second-child policy.

Whether the policy shift will cause a baby boom remains to be seen, and social problems might occur if resources are inadequate to meet the needs of those newborns, said Song.

Against the backdrop of a shrinking labor force and an aging society, China fully implemented the second-child policy on January 1, allowing all couples to have a second child.

According to Li, the policy shift will add 30 million people to China's workforce by 2050.

Amid a growing trend among Chinese women to seek egg freezing services abroad, deputy head of the NHFPC Ma Xiaowei said at the conference that it is now unnecessary to go abroad, as assisted reproductive technology in China is mature.

Ma said that China is planning to provide more hospital beds, midwives and pediatricians to meet the needs of pregnant women of advanced age following the full implementation of the second-child policy.

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