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China's population may be about to shrink because the birth rate has fallen so far, data says

Business Insider logo Business Insider 1/18/2022 dbwalker@insider.com (DeArbea Walker)
Children play games to celebrate the harvest season at a kindergarten on November 3, 2021 in Changxing County, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province of China. Xu Binhua/VCG via Getty Images © Xu Binhua/VCG via Getty Images Children play games to celebrate the harvest season at a kindergarten on November 3, 2021 in Changxing County, Huzhou City, Zhejiang Province of China. Xu Binhua/VCG via Getty Images
  • China's birth rate dropped for the fifth consecutive year, impacting population growth in the world's largest country.
  • China had 10.62 million births in 2021 — 7.5 births per 1,000 — according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China.
  • China's slowing birth rate could soon lead to its population shrinking.

Despite the Chinese government's efforts to encourage couples to have more children, China's birth rate dropped for the fifth consecutive year, signaling that the world's most populous country may soon see its population shrink, according to state-released data

China had 10.62 million births in 2021 — 7.5 births per 1,000 — according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, barely rising above the 10.14 million reported deaths — 7.18 deaths per 1,000.

The country's overall growth rate in 2021 was just 0.34 per thousand, marking the lowest increase in population growth since China's Communist Party rose to power in 1949, according to CNN


Video: UBS Head of China Global Markets on China markets (Bloomberg)

In 1980, China's government instituted a strict one-child policy to curtail outsized population growth in favor of boys to support economic growth, according to the South China Morning Post

Since 2016, the government has worked to reverse this policy — now allowing families to have up to three children, even offering cash incentives and real estate subsidies — but couples are not having more children. 

Couples in China told Insider last year that the rising cost of living and demanding work schedules have them rethinking having children. 

The Director of the National Bureau of Statistics, Ning Jizhe, told state media Monday the decline in births stemmed from the pandemic and a decrease of "women of childbearing age, a continued decline in fertility, changes in attitudes toward childbearing and delays of marriage by young people," according to CNN's translation. 

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