China's population will be down to half by the end of this century?

Source:People's Daily Online Published: 2016/6/30 23:29:05

What scholar Zheng Zhenzhen of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said at the 2016 World Economic Forum has stirred a heated discussion about the Chinese population. According to Zheng, China's population will reduce to 1 billion by the end of this century, just like the volume it had reached by 1980.

However, some experts think a 1 billion population is still a number too optimistic, considering the overestimate of fertility rates, they point out that the Chinese population may possibly reach 600 million by 2100.

A demography scholar Huang Wenzhen from the University of Wisconsin considers it is impossible that China could still have a 1 billion population by the end of the century. Even assuming with a total open birth policy, the birth rate can be 20 percent higher than the one during 2010 to 2015, and the average life expectancy also keeps increasing, Huang estimated the total population of China in 2100 would be 580 million, and decrease to 280 million by 2150.

Another Scholar Yi Fuxian predicts that with the universal two-child policy carried out in 2016, the birth rate still only would rise from 1.25 in 2015 to 1.4 in 2017. And based on the previous experience of South Korea and Taiwan, the birth rate would be down to 1.1 in 2035, and then up to 1.30 in 2056. Supposing that the birth rate can remain at 1.3 until 2100, the population of China would be only 560 million.

According to the 2015 World Population Prospects released by United Nations on July 2015, China's population will be 1.004 billion by the end of this century, which is based on its medium variant. Based on low variant, the prediction on population is 613 million.

Scholars think it is unreasonable for the UN to assume such high a fertility rate of China based on the real situation. The report set the birth rates 1.55 from 2010 to 2015, 1.59 from 2015 to 2020, 1.66 from 2020 to 2030, 1.74 from 2045 to 2050, and 1.81 from 2095 to 2100. While China's birth rates from 2010 to 2013 was 1.18, 1.04, 1.26, and 1.24.

Huang explains that now there are only 17 million new born babies every year. In the next 10 years, the number of Chinese women aged from 23 to 30 would be down by 40 percent. Even if there are 8 million babies being born every year, the birth rate could reach the replacement level, and every one can live to one hundred years of age, Huang estimates the population would still only be 800 million by 2100. 

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