10 million newborns registered in China in 2020, falling below warning level, experts warn
Published: Feb 09, 2021 06:14 PM

Babies participate in a baby crawling contest at a shopping center in Daxing District, Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 13, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

Experts warned that the birth rate in China has crossed a warning level after a recent report from the public security authorities showed that the country registered only 10 million newborns in 2020, 15 percent down from the figure in 2019. 

According to a report published by a research center under the Ministry of Public Security on Monday, the number of newborn babies registered with public security organs was 10.03 million last year. The number in 2019 was 11.79 million.   

Though the exact number of new births will not be announced until April by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), He Yafu, an expert on population issues, said that the total number of births in 2020 was around 12.54 million based on the estimated annual household registration rate in China, which is about 80 percent.

There has been a declining curve of yearly new births in China– 17.86 million, 17.23 million, 15.23 million and 14.65 million in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively, according to data released by the NBS.

"The low birth rate in China has reached an alarming degree, but it is not a surprise,” Mu Guangzong, a professor from the Institute of Population Research at Peking University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The main reason for the decline is the low desire among young couples to have children due to the high cost of supporting a child, he said, noting that for many young couples, the general housing and education policies in China as well as the social environment as a whole do not encourage them to have kids.

The increasingly unbalanced sex ratio of Chinese people may also be a factor in the decline, he said, as the growing number of single people will squeeze the marriage market in the country.

Among the 10 million registered newborns in 2020, boys account for 52.7 percent. 

China's total male population was 715.27 million at the end of 2019, outnumbering the female population by 30.49 million, according to the NBS. 

Minister of Civil Affairs Li Jiheng said in December 2020 that China's population development had entered a critical turning point. 

In an article on the national strategy to tackle the aging population, Li suggested that the government come up with more guidance to raise the fertility rate and keep it within an appropriate range so as to increase the supply of labor for the country.