Chinese newborns in 2022 expected to drop below 10 million with total population expected to shrink for the first time in decades: demographer
Published: Jan 12, 2023 07:49 PM
Third-child policy Photo: VCG

Third-child policy Photo: VCG

The figure of Chinese newborns in 2022 to be declared is expected to drop below 10 million, a record low since 1949, and the total Chinese population is expected to shrink for the first time in decades, a Chinese demographer said as the Chinese demographic figures are expected to be released next week. 

He Yafu, an independent demographer, said the number of newborns in 2022 is expected to further decline from 2021, and the number of deaths is expected to increase compared with 2021. The combined effects of which will lead to the negative growth of the Chinese population in 2022 for the first time in decades. 

He proposed a full liberalization on childbirth, warning that negative factors in demography will undermine the long-term growth potential of economy unless the government's policies to promote childbirth start to take effect, He told the Global Times on Thursday. 

Considering the declining trend of newborns during the past few years and the newborns' figures released by local governments in the previous months of 2022, He predicted that the number of newborns in China fell by 5 to 10 percent from 2021, stood at a number between 10.09 million and 9.56 million. 

Meanwhile, He said the deaths of the Chinese population in 2022 may increase a bit more than the figure of 10.14 million in 2021, due to the further aging population. 

According to the World Population Prospects 2022 released by the United Nations, the deaths of Chinese population will be around 10 million in recent years, but the figure will rise to 12 million by 2030, to 15 million by 2040 and further to 17 million by 2050. 

China's net increase in total population in 2021 was only 480,000, with a declining number of newborns and a rising number of deaths in 2022, He predicted that the total Chinese population in 2022 would probably have entered a negative growth, with the number of deaths exceeding the number of newborns. 

According to He, the factors that contributed to the decline in newborns in recent years include the weakening of the stimulation effect of second child policy, the declining number of marriage registrations and the number of women of childbearing age, and the high costs of raising children that has suppressed couples' fertility desires. Besides, the COVID-19 epidemic also has a negative impact on the number of newborns. 

China implemented the third-child policy in May of 2021 and rolled out a series of stimulating measures afterwards to boost population growth. A number of cities or provinces across the country have rolled out incentive policies such as issuing subsidies to families with a second or third child. 

A latest move by Shenzhen city in South China's Guangdong Province is to solicit public opinion on childcare subsidies. The subsidies for "third child" families can be accumulated up to 19,000 yuan ($2,800) over the course of three years.

Others have implemented preferential housing policies to encourage families with two or three children to buy more homes. Changsha, in Central China's Hunan Province, will break the property-purchasing limit, allowing families with two or more children to buy one more house. 

More than a dozen cities across China have implemented preferential housing policies, starting from last May to encourage families with two or three children to buy more homes. The incentives include breaking the property-purchasing limit, offering housing loans and subsidies.  

However, since the incentive policies in China are even not as encouraging as those in Japan and South Korea where birth rates have not been raised apparently, He predicted that the third-child policy can hardly reverse the downward trend in the number of newborns in China. 

So far, China has only proposed a third-child policy instead of a full liberalization on childbirth, He pointed out, noting that despite only a few people are willing to have a fourth child at present, a clear proposal to fully liberalize the childbirth and encouragement on childbirth with no limit will help rebuild the childbirth culture.

According to the usual practice, China's National Bureau of Statistics will announce the statistics of the Chinese population during a press conference on the operations of China's economy, which is scheduled to be held on January 17 this year.